Croatia defeated Iceland on Tuesday in a UEFA World Cup playoff to advance to the tournament in Brazil. They were obviously excited to clinch it at home with a 2-0 win after a scoreless draw in Iceland. Australian-born Croatia defender Joe Šimunić grabbed the microphone to address the crowd, who does he think he is? David Ortiz?
It went very badly as well.
He shouts to the crowd: “For the homeland!” ["Za dom spremni!"]. They respond with “ready!” Seems harmless enough right?
Apparently that chant was used by Ustashas, the Croatian pro-Nazi puppet regime that ruled the state during World War II. During that time tens of thousands Jews, Serbs and others perished in concentration camps.
What makes this even crazier, is that Šimunić is defending his use of the chant.
“Some people have to learn some history. I’m not afraid,” Šimunić said, via The Guardian. “I did nothing wrong. I’m supporting my Croatia, my homeland. If someone has something against it, that’s their problem.”
The Croatian media for their part denounced the chant and called it “a disgrace.”
“Our team has waited for this celebration for a long time and Joe ruins everything,” the daily 24sata commented.
“Šimunić, you need a lesson in history,” Croatian Minister of Sport and Education Zeljko Jovanovic said. “If you want I will personally help you get a good history teacher and learn what “Za dom spremni” means.”
And a video from the stands: