Croatian soccer fans perform Nazi march in Milan

Hundreds of fans of Dinamo Zagreb were filmed marching through the streets of Milan before their team's game against AC Milan, arms extended in Nazi salutes.

 The flag of Croatia (illustrative). (photo credit: PIXABAY)
The flag of Croatia (illustrative).
(photo credit: PIXABAY)

Hoards of Croatian football fans marched through the streets of Milan on Thursday displaying the Nazi salute before their team, Dinamo Zagreb, was set to play against AC Milan in the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League. The UEFA has yet to respond to the incident. 

Eastern European English-language media source Balkan Insight explains that, "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 Ustaše movement."

The Ustaše movement came to power in 1941, chosen to lead the Independent State of Croatia as a puppet for the Axis powers. Its members murdered hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews and Roma as well as political dissidents in Yugoslavia during World War II.

Condemnations all around

The US organization StopAntisemitism made a statement on Twitter in response to the incident, saying: "Horrifying- Croatian soccer fans (Dinamo Zagreb) marching throughout the streets of Milan throwing up Nazi salutes. The Ustaše would be very proud."

The European Jewish Congress also responded, 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."

Israel's former ambassador to Croatia, Ilan Mor, also issued a condemnation on Twitter: "Horrible and totally unacceptable! This is totally against the basic values of football!"

European football and antisemitism

Balkan Insight also reports that fans of Eintracht Frankfurt also gave Nazi salutes while their team played against Marseille. The UEFA did respond to that incident, issuing disciplinary charges against the Frankfurt club. The club itself also condemned their fans' actions in a statement later the same day. 

This is the latest of many instances of Croatian football fans spouting antisemitic rhetoric. The country has also had issues with Holocaust revisionism, leading some Croatian Jews to boycott a Holocaust remembrance event in 2017.