Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Croatia defender Josip Simunic fails in Fifa ban appeal

End of the world: Josip Simunic is banned from playing in Brazil

Croatia defender Josip Simunic will definitely miss the World Cup finals after losing his appeal against a 10-match ban imposed by Fifa after he made a fascist salute in November.

Simunic, now 36, appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport following the announcement of his lengthy suspension, which was accompanied by a fine of 30,000 Swiss francs (£20,700).

He was punished by world football's governing body after being captured on video using a microphone to lead chants which were found to have associations with Croatia's former pro-Nazi Ustase regime after his country's World Cup qualifying play-off win over Iceland in Zagreb in November.

Croatia face hosts Brazil in the opening match, followed by meetings with Mexico and Cameroon in Group A, but Dinamo Zagreb captain Simunic is banned from entering the stadium for any of those games – or for any further games should the nation progress.

A statement released by CAS yesterday read: "The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has rejected the appeal filed by the Croatian football player Josip Simunic against the decision of the Fifa Appeal Committee issued on 21 February 2014.

"The CAS confirmed the sanction imposed by Fifa against the player, who remains suspended for 10 official matches, the first of which has to be served during the final competition of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, banned from entering the confines of the stadiums for those 10 matches and also fined 30,000 Swiss francs."

After Fifa disciplinary proceedings were opened against Simunic on November 22 of last year, a statement from his club Dinamo denied he'd had any intent to make a political statement, but confirmed that Simunic had used the phrase: "For the homeland".

Croatian fans replied by shouting: "Ready".

But FIFA found him guilty of "offending the dignity of a group of persons by using discriminatory words".

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