Croatia defender Josip Šimunić loses appeal over World Cup ban13 May 2014

CroatiadefenderJosipŠimunić lostonMonday(12May)hisappeal toa10-matchban forleadingfansinapro-Nazichantafteraplay-offvictoryoverIcelandinNovember2013.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said it unanimously rejected Šimunić’s arguments and dismissed his appeal against the FIFA sanction, ruling the player out of the World Cup.

Šimunić’s ban will start when Croatia opens the World Cup against host Brazil, in São Paulo, on 12 June.

Šimunić’s lawyer, Davor Prtenjaca, said:

“This was not the victory of justice, but the power of a big football association. FIFA had its ban based on political, not legal aspects”.

The World War II-era slogan invoked by Šimunić was used by Croatia’s Ustasha regime, which sent tens of thousands Jews, Serbs and Gypsies to death camps.

“The expression used by Šimunić was a clear and unequivocal reference to the call used by the (Ustashas),” CAS said.

After the match that qualified the Croatians to the World Cup in Brazil, Šimunić took a microphone on the field and shouted to supporters:

“To the battle, to the battle for the homeland!”

The fans responded: “We are ready!”

FIFA’s disciplinary panel has said Šimunić’s action was discriminatory and offensive. The sanction reflected its commitment to harsher sanctions for racism and discrimination at matches.

“FIFA considers that CAS gives a clear and strong support to FIFA’s efforts in stamping out racism in football,” football’s governing body said in a statement.

Šimunić, who plays for Dinamo Zagreb, apologized after previously defending his action. After the initial reaction, he said:

“Some people have to learn some history. I’m not afraid. I did nothing wrong.”

The 36-year-old Australian-born player is also barred from stadiums where Croatia will play its next 10 official games. He was fined 30,000 Swiss francs (€24,580) last December by FIFA.

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