Also securing a trip to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil this week was the men’s national soccer team from Croatia, as a 2-0 victory over Iceland on Tuesday ensured the fellas from Zagreb their warm summer with Miss Bum Bum. But while Croatia celebrates its huge victory, a lot of people around the world are wagging their fingers in scorn at the team’s fans and, more specifically, defender Josip Simunic for his postgame shout out to the crowd, which included the battle cry, “Za dom spremni!” or basically “For the homeland! Ready!”
According to the history books, the battle cry dates back to another Josip – Count Josip Jelačić, who would rank pretty high in my slideshow of the 10 Most Important Croats of All-Time, probably behind Monika Jakisic – but it’s most commonly associated with the pro-Nazi Ustashas that ran the country during World War II. Naturally, people aren’t too pleased that Simunic launched this battle cry that invokes horrible imagery, but he really doesn’t care.
The Australian-born Simunic defended his action, saying “some people have to learn some history. I’m not afraid.”
“I did nothing wrong. I’m supporting my Croatia, my homeland,” the 35-year-old defender said. “If someone has something against it, that’s their problem.” (Via the Associated Press)
It doesn’t help Simunic’s cause that when his country’s soccer fans have chanted this same battle cry in the past, they’ve also thrown in Nazi salutes. So maybe from here on out, he should try a different chant like, “Yay, go Croatia! That’s it, nothing else Nazi-ish to add!”