European soccer officials silent after disturbing sight of hundreds of fans marched through the streets making Nazi salutes.
By Pesach Benson, United with Israel
Hundreds of Croatian soccer fans marched through the streets of Milan giving Nazi salutes on Thursday, drawing rebuke from Israel and Jewish organizations.
Fans of the soccer team, FC Dinamo Zagreb, Croatia’s top team, traveled to Italy for the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League tournament. Video footage on social media showed the Dinamo fans, known as the Bad Blue Boys, making stiff-armed Nazi salutes and chanting as they marched.
Italian media reported separate incidents of Croats getting into fights with other fan groups. A Dinamo fan was reportedly stabbed during one such altercation.
The Balkan Insights news site reported that it contacted officials from UEFA and Dinamo for comments but received no response from either.
The European Jewish Congress tweeted its outrage, saying: “Absolutely abhorrent. Dinamo Zagreb fans performing the Nazi salute in the streets of Milan. The world of football must free itself from fascists and carriers of hatred, a hatred that from soccer fields spreads to the squares.”
Absolutely abhorrent. Dinamo Zagreb fans performing the Nazi salute in the streets of Milan.
The world of football must free itself from fascists and carriers of hatred, a hatred that from soccer fields spreads to the squares. pic.twitter.com/rd2Z97Rn1q
— European Jewish Congress (@eurojewcong) September 15, 2022
Israel’s Ambassador to Croatia, Ilan Mor also condemned the march on Twitter calling it “horrible and totally unacceptable” and “totally against the basic values of football.”
The US organization StopAntisemitism tweeted: “Horrifying- Croatian soccer fans (Dinamo Zagreb) marching throughout the streets of Milan throwing up Nazi salutes. The Ustaše would be very proud.”
The Ustase was the Nazi-allied fascist and ultra-nationalist party that ruled Croatia during World War II. It was responsible for murdering thousands of Jews, Roma and Serbs as part of an effort to create what it considered an ethnically pure Croatia.
According to Balkan Insights, “In Croatia, hardcore football fan groups often evoke the 1990s independence war with Serb-dominated Yugoslavia to use hate speech against Serbs or show sympathy for the Fascist Ustasa movement, which ruled Croatia under Nazi German and Italian auspices and persecuted Serbs, Jews and Roma people during World War II.”
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