Because he chanted “For Home” (Za Dom) and because the public at the World Cup qualifying match against Iceland on 16 November 2013 responded “Ready!” the Croatian defender Josip Simunic will miss the World Cup after being banned for 10 matches by Fifa.
World governing body Fifa on Monday confirmed Simunic’s ban will start at the World Cup in Brazil, and also announced he will be banned from entering the stadium for any of the country’s matches.
Simunic has also been ordered to pay a fine of CHF 30,000.
A Fifa statement said: ”The committee took note that the player, together with the crowd, shouted a Croatian salute that was used during World War II by the fascist ‘Ustaše’ movement.
”As a consequence, the committee agreed that this salute was discriminatory and offended the dignity of a group of persons concerning, inter alia, race, religion or origin, in a clear breach of article 58 par. 1a) of the Fifa disciplinary code.
”After taking into account all of the circumstances of the case, and particularly given the gravity of the incident, the committee decided to suspend the player for 10 official matches.”
FIFA Disciplinary Code, Article 58 – Discrimination:
“1. a) Anyone who offends the dignity of a person or group of persons through contemptuous, discriminatory or denigratory words or actions concerning race, colour, language, religion or origin shall be suspended for at least five matches. Furthermore, a stadium ban and a fine of at least CHF 20,000 shall be imposed. If the perpetrator is an official, the fine shall be at least CHF 30,000.”
Now, it is a fact that even FIFA cannot deny: multitudes of Croats in Croatia and worldwide have expressed and do express that calling the chant “Za Dom Spremni” (For Home Ready) a fascist or Nazi chant discriminates against them because they, like Simunic, do not hold it as such but as an historic (pre-WWII) expression of patriotism and love for Croatia. Indeed, even though FIFA it its 16 December 2013 media statement says it has taken into account “all of the circumstances of the case” it is blatantly clear that it had brutally disregarded the information/circumstance of that greeting not being the greeting that can only be attributed to WWII Ustashe regime in Croatia, or that Simunic had clearly stated he had not used that greeting as Ustashes had.
Here is just one example of a letter sent to FIFA or information sent several days before it made its decision to brutally punish Joe Simunic:
“The origin, meaning and actual context of the «For Home» («Za dom») phrase
Historioghraphically, it is completely undoubtable that the phrase «For home» belongs to the Croatian traditional heritage and, as such, it has been very prevalent in various types of Croatian social life for several centuries. Historical sources evidence that the phrase «For home» was used in ethnological, literary, music, political, military, cultural and other forms of Croatian social life during the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. It has been applied to very differing occasions and situations; official and everyday ones. Because of all of that the phrase «For home» has become naturalised among the various generations of the widest of classes of Croatian population.
With that, the phrase «For home» has acquired very wide communication meanings. Cumulatively, it had represented the widest expression of value of social solidarity. i.e., devotion to home and homeland, but it was also used as a spontaneous and amiable everyday greeting.
The omnipresence and social desirability of the phrase “For home” and the different variations with the word home had been recognised by different social groups and political parties and movements in Croatia, which used them in their activities. For example, the largest and the most influential Croatian party of the 20th century Croatia – Croatian Peasant Party, which was of the left ideological orientation – had given its main newsletter the title “Home” (“Dom”).
The Ustashe movement, which collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War II and established a totalitarian regime in the Independent State of Croatia – NDH (1941 – 1945), used a series of contents from the Croatian traditional heritage in their original or adapted forms. Among other things they adapted the traditional phrase “For home” into their salutation “For Leader and Home!” With the ending of World War II, NDH ceased to exist and the newly established Yugoslav communist totalitarian regime mounted a cruel and thorough revenge with its representatives and its ideology. The war collaborative regimes in Slovenia and Serbia experienced the same fate.
But, the Yugoslav communist regime had during the post-war years, across the whole of Yugoslav territory, especially systematically, thoroughly and cruelly, destroyed the overall material and spiritual pre-communist civilisation and national heritage. Traditional heritage of ethnic majorities (Slovenians, Croats, Bosniaks, Serbs, Albanians, Montenegrins, Macedonians) and of some twenty ethnic minorities had in the national sense, suffered equally.
All these crimes occurred in the name of the exclusive and bigoted communist ideology. All non-communist and, to the regime undesirable persons, associations, ideas, symbols etc. were pronounced counter-revolutionaries and enemies and were neutralised through limitless aggression (via the so-called dictatorship of the proletariat).
Within the territory of Croatia everything that was not to the regime’s liking was most frequently and without any foundation pronounced fascist or Ustashe, and was exposed to destructive violence. Even distinguished Croatian communists who came into conflict with the regime were marked as Ustashe and fascists, then killed, banished or neutralised in some other ways. For example, the long-standing and most prominent Croatian communist Andrija Hebrang was arrested and killed under such circumstances. The murder most likely occurred in 1949 and the details of the murder are not known to this day, or the fate of his post mortal remains. A number of head communists in Croatia (Savka Dabcevic Kucar, Miko Tripalo and others) were completely neutralised through similar accusations at the end of 1971.
At the end of 1980’s, at the height of the Yugoslav crisis, the Serbian communist regime of the “Balkan Butcher” Slobodan Milosevic had openly called the leading communists in Croatia as Ustashe and fascists and consequently the armed aggression against Croatia commenced.
The Republic of Croatia had on 1st July 2013 become the 28th member of the European Union even though European and world professionals emphasised that Croatia was one of the most corrupt countries and had the highest debt. The day when Croatia entered into the EU became a day of the greatest of scandals in the history of European integration, because the highest of powers in the Republic of Croatia – against the accession agreement and the European legal wealth – had passed the law which had as its aim (according to the assessment by Viviane Reding, vice-president of the European Commission) the protection of Yugoslav communist regime’s criminals who had committed the most serious of crimes, including the liquidation of about 80 Croatian emigrants who lived in countries of the Western world.
EU had thus came face to face with the fact that most of the state and social power in the new EU member state – Republic of Croatia – is held by the administrative structures inherited from the communist Yugoslavia era.
In addition to that, the economic, political and social situation in Croatia has been worsening dramatically during the past year. The regime attacks in increasingly radical manner, with its statements and via mass mainstream media it controls, every democratic will of Croatian citizens. Just as in the communist era, every public activity in Croatia that is not under the regime’s control is being pronounced as fascist, Nazi, Ustashe and backward.
Croatian citizens are not the only ones who suffer in the face of the thrusts of such bigoted radicalism but, in spring of 2013, Judith Reisman, the distinguished American scientist, a Jew whose family suffered severely in the Holocaust, had suffered also.
Mrs Reisman visited Croatia and appeared in public in support of the internationally awarded journalist Karolina Vidovic Kristo, who is being persecuted by the regime in Croatia. Government representatives, regime’s media and scientists had, because of that support, unleashed a shameful, strong and most primitive public campaign against Mrs Reisman, disqualifying her professional and personal dignity. While at it, they also pronounced Mrs Reisman a Nazi even though they were well aware that her family had suffered horribly under the hand of the Nazi regime.
Now, half a year after Mrs Reisman, the regime in Croatia and its media and other followers, have set in motion a similar campaign against the footballer Joe Simunic because he had greeted the public after an important game of the Croatian football representation with the old Croatian salutation “For home”.
It is important to emphasise here that Simunic is a child of Croatian emigrants and was born in 1978 in Australia, where he lived, grew up and successfully played football until 1998. Then he came to play for European clubs, and alongside that, from 2001, he also plays for the Croatian representation. Only since the summer of 2011 Simunic plays for “Dinamo” club Zagreb and lives in Croatia.
So, J. Simunic spent the first 33 years of his life in a democratic Western world, playing football exceptionally successfully and forming his personality without any discriminating incidents.
In light of all of this, we truly hope that the experienced world and European football organisations will not succumb to the hysterical pressures of the regime and the motives that hide behind unfounded attacks against the outstanding world and Croatian football player J. Simunic”. (Original text in Croatian by Prof. dr. sc. Josip Jurčević, Senior Scientific Adviser At Institute for Social Sciences Ivo Pilar, Professor of contemporary world and national historyAt Croatian Studies University of Zagreb, In Zagreb, 4th December 2013 – Translated into English by Ina Vukic)
According to Croatia’s Vecernji List the news of FIFA’s sanction against Simunic shocked many, including Simunic and the executive president of Croatian Football Federation (HNS) Damir Vrbanovic, who stated:
“We are shocked at FIFA’s decision to punish Simunic…we will give every support to our representative player in his likely appeal against this decision, but we need to acknowledge that this sanction means that Simunic will not be able to play in Brazil. Although we know that Simunic did not want to offend anyone with his behaviour, FIFA has, with such a draconic measure, evidently wanted to send a strong message…”
Croatia coach Niko Kovac said he was “unpleasantly surprised, shocked and disappointed” by the FIFA sanction.
“I know him (Simunic) for a long time… and I am absolutely certain that he did not want to hurt anyone in any way,” Kovac said in a statement.
Tracking back to 16 November, Simunic said that he was motivated solely by “love of my people (Croatian) and homeland”.
“The thought that anyone could associate me with any form of hatred or violence terrifies me,” he said.
“If anyone understood my cries differently, or negatively, I hereby want to deny they contained any political context.
“They were guided exclusively by my love for my people and homeland, not hatred and destruction.”
Indeed it is a terrifying world when those in whose interest it is to keep pounding on about WWII fascism as if it were alive today only to keep justifying communist crimes and delaying prosecution of the same and for other political agendas. Indeed it is a terrifying world when one sees that FIFA, an organisation supposedly determined to stamp out discrimination actually discriminates against some in order to accuse others of discrimination. FIFA would have done a much better job had it thoroughly looked into all aspects of “For Home” salutation when it comes to Croats, rather than plucking out 4 out of 200+ years of its usage as its defining meaning. As far as I see it this move by FIFA desecrates Croatian history of the greeting “Za Dom” (For Home) and no one should be permitted to define history as they please. To top it all off FIFA’s brutal sanctions against Simunic practically ends his career as player in a national representative team! A young man who had done nothing except worked hard and loved the country of his ancestors – Croatia (he was born and grew up in Australia)! Such brutality takes back to 1991 when arms embargo was imposed against Croatia at the time of Serb aggression – it was left helpless in defending her own lives!
But don’t forget, everyone: Croatia was defended in 1990’s from brutal Serb aggression by Croat veterans who wore rosary beads around their necks and greeted each other on the battle fields with “Za Dom! (For Home!)” There was no fascism then, even if some who attempt equating victim with the aggressor might try and disagree. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)