Croatian football fans, or at least those wild among them, can be real troublemakers. Only a few days after national team star, Australian born Joe Simunic and thousands of people on Maksimir stadium in Zagreb celebrated victory against Iceland with a Croatian version of Nazi-chanting, parts of the toughest Hajduk Split fans did the same. Simunic was fined 3,000 euros for spreading national hatred, and FIFA is yet to bring its verdict against him. This terrible incident brought a bad light on Croatia’s qualification for the 2014 World Cup, after thousands of international media published their stories about it. Just check Google with keywords ‘Simunic and Nazi’, the results are overwhelming, and devastating for Croatia’s reputation as a modern EU state.
And then, it happened again. During the national championship match Hajduk vs. Osijek, hundreds of members of Hajduk’s fan group Torcida began chanting “za dom” (“for homeland”), and fans from another stadium sectors replied “spremni” (“prepared”), which is the military chant from the Croatian Nazi-puppet WW2 state, similar to German “Sieg Heil”. This way, as they usually explain, they protested for fining Simunic who just “showed patriotism”. Of course, none of those guys want to confess – this is a motto under which tens of thousands people were killed.
In Hajduk’s case, this affair have another important dimension. During WW2 Hajduk declined to play in the league organized by Italian, German, and Croatian fascists. In 1944 the whole team left Split, and joined Marshall Tito’s partisan troops. They didn’t fight on the battlefield, but played an incredibly important role in spreading the word about probably the most important and the biggest resistance movement in occupied Europe. Hajduk played several matches against British forces teams in Bari, Egypt, and after liberation in Split. More than 40,000 spectators, mostly allies’ soldiers attended mythical match against British national team in Bari, Italy. This is maybe the most important event in the 100 years long Hajduk history.
Not only that, Croatian WW2 fascists called “ustasha” surrendered the whole of Dalmatia to Mussolini, meaning that if they won the war, Split wouldn’t even be a part of Croatia, and Hajduk wouldn’t exist. Maybe someone should explain to today’s fans what heritage they betrayed with this Nazi-chanting. The club’s president Marin Brbic rightfully condemned this incident, calling it “shameful”.
Split was one of the centers of antifascism resistance in former Yugoslavia. more than 5,000 people were killed in either fightings or as victims of fascists’ terror during first Italian, and then German occupation. Split’s athletes played an important role, and almost all players of another football club, RNK Split, joined the partisans right after occupation in 1941, and were caught and killed by Italian fascists and ustashas near Sinj.