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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Simunic fined for 'pro-Nazi chants'

Croatia defender Joe Simunic has been fined 3,200 euros for "spreading racial hatred" after allegedly leading pro-Nazi chants during celebrations of his country's World Cup qualification.

Croatia booked their place at Brazil 2014 with a 2-0 win over Iceland on Tuesday and Simunic was a key figure in leading the post-match chants with the home crowd.

Video footage appears to show Simunic grabbing hold of a microphone and it is believed he yelled "For the homeland!" The fans responded: "Ready".

That was the war call used by Ustashas, the Croatian pro-Nazi puppet regime that ruled the state during World War II when tens of thousands Jews, Serbs and others perished in concentration camps.

Australian-born Simunic defended his actions in an official media release by the Croatian Football Federation, insisting he was "supporting" his "homeland", but Croatia's public prosecutors handed down the fine, claiming the 35-year-old was aware of the call's meaning.

He said: "After the victory, my happiness knew no end and I wanted to celebrate with our supporters who had endured with us for better and for worse, and in this state of excitement, arising solely from my love for my homeland Croatia, and not from any intent to glorify a totalitarian regime, I spoke the words "For Home". Being a Croat who was born and raised far from my homeland, the home for me is associated with love, warmth and a positive struggle; all that we have demonstrated in the field and which has led us to the World Championship.

"Those were the sole reasons that let the emotions take the better of me and so I engaged in a shouting exchange with the supporters. I only wanted to use the words to say that we are the strongest and the most united in the hour of our greatest need and all the subsequent interpretations have nothing to do with either truth, my opinions or my actions.

He continued: "If anyone has taken my shouts to be something else, i.e. something negative, I hereby deny that there was any political context underlying that statement, which was guided purely by my love for my nation and country rather than by hatred and destruction.

"I am positive that even my most arduous critics are aware that I had no ill-intent at any moment, that I did not entice hatred on either ethnic or religious grounds and I state, once again, that my actions were guided solely by my love for my nation and homeland and not by hatred and destruction."

FIFA are also considering further disciplinary action.

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

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