FIFA has announced that Croatia international Josip Simunic has been handed a 10-match ban following his behaviour after the country qualified for the 2014 World Cup.
Video footage taken after Croatia’s playoff victory over Iceland appears to show Simunic making a salute and grabbing hold of a microphone and yelling: "For the homeland!"
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 of Jews, Serbs and others perished in concentration camps.
Simunic was fined 3,200 euros for "spreading racial hatred" last month but FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee has now extended his punishment, and the 35-year-old Dinamo Zagreb defender will play no part in the event in Brazil next summer as a result.
A statement on the governing body’s official website read: “Croatian international Josip Simunic [has been] suspended for 10 official matches, banned from entering the confines of the stadiums for those 10 matches and fined CHF 30,000 [$5,400 or 3,300 pounds].”
It added: “The committee agreed that this salute was discriminatory and offended the dignity of a group of persons concerning, inter alia, race, religion or origin, in a clear breach of article 58 par. 1a) of the FIFA Disciplinary Code.
“After taking into account all of the circumstances of the case, and particularly given the gravity of the incident, the committee decided to suspend the player for 10 official matches.”
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has made clear his organisation’s determination to introduce stronger punishments for racism and the statement added: “The resolution on the fight against racism and discrimination, which was approved at the FIFA Congress in May 2013, advocates the need for strict punishments to send out a strong message that discrimination has no place in the game.”