FIFA has rejected Josip Simunic’s appeal against his 10-match ban following his behaviour after Croatia qualified for the 2014 World Cup -- but the player’s lawyer remains confident he will be able to feature in Brazil.
Video footage taken after Croatia’s playoff victory over Iceland appears to show the 36-year-old Dinamo Zagreb defender 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 thousands of Jews, Serbs and others perished in concentration camps.
As a result of his actions, Simunic was suspended for 10 official matches -- prohibiting him from playing in this summer’s World Cup -- and banned from entering the confines of the stadiums during that time as well as being fined $5,400 (3,200 euros).
Despite the ruling, Simunic’s lawyer, Davor Prtenjaca, believes his client will be able to feature in Brazil as he plans an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Prtenjaca told Sportske Novosti: “I remain very optimistic that Joseph will be eligible to play at the World Cup because we are going to take the case to CAS.
“We will ask CAS to temporarily postpone the implementation of FIFA’s punishment and let Simunic play for the national team until it makes its decision. There are several cases in which CAS has already done this.”
Prtenjaca maintains that FIFA was wrong to consider Simunic’s remark to be fascistic and said the explanation given by the governing body was “on the level of the primary school,” adding that the chief expert consulted in the case was a “historian from America who is known for championing Serbian positions.”
Croatia have been drawn in Group A for the World Cup along with hosts Brazil, Mexico and Cameroon.