May 25, 2013; London, UNITED KINGDOM; Bayern Munich player Mario Mandzukic (9) celebrates after scoring a goal against Borussia Dortmund during the Champions League final at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Groothuis/Witters Sport via USA TODAY Sports

Croatia 'celebrate with pro-Nazi chants' (Video)

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:

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Tags: Croatia World Cup

  • Dave Lewis

    Wow, for your homeland is Neo-Nazi now. I hear that used in the US all the time, maybe they are all Neo-Nazis since there a large group of them living in the US.

    • amer_handan

      You misunderstood Dave. “Za Dom Spremni” is a Nazi-Era Croatian fascist chant. When Croatian fascist say “Za Dom Spremni,” which roughly translates to “Ready for the Homeland,” they are not referring to the “homeland” as Croatia proper. They refer to the annexation of Bosnia and territories outside of Croatia. The reason the crowd replies with “Spremni” (“Ready”) is because they are indicating they are ready for war, ready for conquest, and ready to expand the borders of Croatia in order to create a “greater” and ethnically-pure Croatia.

      During the WWII, this meant occupying all of Bosnia, killing hundreds of thousands of Bosniaks, Serbs, Gypsies, and Jews with the support of the Nazis. A lot of these fascists resurfaced during the break up of Yugoslavia when Croatian fascists again killed non-Croatians all over Bosnia, typically shouting “Za Dom Spremni” before battle and during the killing civilians.

      It’s also not coincidental that Simunic and some former Croatian national players are Australian-born. A lot of Croatian fascists fled Croatia after the Allies and Yugoslav Partisans won World War II. Of the few places that fascists could flee and take their racist views with them, Australia was one of them. Germans and Italians fled primarily to Argentina to avoid capture and arrest.

      Hope that clarifies that this is not an innocent chant. It’s much closer to “Sieg Heil” than anything else. This is racism and fascism in soccer. Croatia has become more democratic over time, but still struggles with a large number of these radicals. Clearly, nearly the entire stadium responded to the salute…

      ** To clarify, I’m not sure if Simunic’s ancestors that moved to Australia were Croatian fascists, but the chant seems to indicate that they very well might have been…”

  • amerikanka

    It seems obvious that Joe Simunić had no idea of the Ustaša history, or meaning behind this phrase. He’s part of the great Bosnian-Croat diaspora, returned to play football, not perform neurosurgery.