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Croats celebrate WCup berth with pro-Nazi chants

AP - Sports

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) -- Croatia's World Cup qualification celebrations have been marred by apparent pro-Nazi chants by fans and defender Joe Simunic.

Croatia qualified for the World Cup with a 2-0 win over Iceland on Tuesday. Video footage shows Simunic taking a microphone to the field after the match and shouting to the fans: ''For the homeland!'' The fans respond: ''Ready!''

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 Jews, Serbs and others perished in concentration camps.

The Australian-born Simunic defended his action, saying ''some people have to learn some history. I'm not afraid.''

''I did nothing wrong. I'm supporting my Croatia, my homeland,'' the 35-year-old defender said. ''If someone has something against it, that's their problem.''

The same chant coupled with the Nazi salute has often been used by Croatian fans in the past. FIFA and UEFA have often fined the Croatian soccer association because of their behavior.

There was no immediate reaction from FIFA to the latest incident.

At the 2006 World Cup, Simunic was the player who received three yellow cards in one match before being sent off.

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