2013-12-17 03:01 AM
ZURICH (AP) -- FIFA has banned Croatia defender Josip Simunic for 10 games -- including the entire World Cup -- for leading fans in a pro-Nazi chant after the team qualified.
Simunic invoked a World War II-era slogan used by Croatia's then-puppet regime following a 2-0 playoff victory against Iceland last month.
"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 said in a statement.
The 35-year-old player took a microphone in the stadium in Zagreb and shouted to supporters: "For the homeland!" The fans responded: "Ready!"
FIFA said Monday that the salute was "discriminatory and offended the dignity of a group of persons concerning ... race, religion or origin."
Simunic will miss the whole World Cup tournament in Brazil and is also barred from the stadiums where Croatia will play its next 10 games.
FIFA also fined Simunic 30,000 Swiss francs ($33,800) and ordered the Croatia football federation to pay a fine of 70,000 Swiss francs ($78,700).
Simunic previously defended his action, saying he was driven by love for his country.
The Australia-born player played for Croatia at the 2006 World Cup and famously was sent off against Australia after receiving three yellow cards.