7:45am Tuesday 17th December 2013
SAINTS defender Dejan Lovren’s Croatian central defensive colleague Josip Simunic will miss the World Cup after after being banned for 10 matches by FIFA for shouting a fascist salute following his team's play-off victory over Iceland last month.
The world governing body confirmed Simunic's ban will start at the World Cup in Brazil, and also announced he will be banned from entering the stadium for any of the country's matches.
Simunic has also been ordered to pay a fine of 30,000 Swiss francs (£20,700).
The ban was branded “draconian” by Croatia Football Federation (HNS) executive chairman Damir Vrbanovic, who said the HNS would support an appeal but was already planning for a World Cup without the 105-times capped Simunic.
The ban could signal the end of the 35-year-old's international career.
The incident came after Croatia's World Cup qualifying play-off against Iceland in Zagreb on November 19, a match Croatia won 2-0 in order to secure their place in Brazil.
Lovren spent that match on the bench, as he did the first leg.
The Dinamo Zagreb captain was captured on video using a microphone to lead chants which were found to have associations with Croatia's former pro-Nazi Ustase regime.
A FIFA statement said: “The committee took note that the player, together with the crowd, shouted a Croatian salute that was used during World War II by the fascist 'Ustase' movement.
“As a consequence, the committee agreed that this salute was discriminatory and offended the dignity of a group of persons concerning, inter alia, race, religion or origin, in a clear breach of article 58 par. 1a) of the FIFA disciplinary code.
“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.”
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