Confirmed: Americans aren’t nearly crass enough for soccer

Confirmed: Americans aren’t nearly crass enough for soccer

[Ed. – I mean, we land on the fainting couch when someone says “Redskins.”]

Croatia performs a very distinct, and very political, type of nationalism in its matches, a kind of behavior that makes much of Europe deeply uncomfortable. In the Guardian, Croatian journalist Aleksandar Holiga writes that:

Before every home game Croatia play, the same song is played. It has an anthemic, ABBA-esque melody, some hard rock riffs, a heavy bass … and a bit of an ethnic touch. It’s called “Lijepa Li Si” (“You’re So Beautiful”) and the man who sings it calls himself Thompson after a submachine gun, a nickname given to him while he fought in the Croatian War of Independence in the 1990s. His first hit song included a slogan used by Croatian fascist[s] and there are recordings online where he sings songs about murdering Serbs in concentration camps.

Accordingly, Croatia has found itself in trouble with Europe’s soccer authorities. “I’m not happy with Croatia,” UEFA President Michel Platini recently said. “They are a good team but it’s unacceptable when you’ve got 100 or so assholes among the crowd.” In 2012, UEFA slapped Croatia with a large fine after its fans racially abused Italy’s Mario Balotelli, who is of Ghanaian descent. And in November 2013, UEFA banned Croatia’s talismanic defender, Josip Šimunić, for 10 games after he participated in fascist chants (also frequently described as “pro-Nazi” chants) with Croatian fans after securing qualification. Even if Croatia makes it to the World Cup final, Šimunić will miss the entire tournament.

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While Šimunić is perhaps an extreme example, soccer has long been a venue for Croatians to assert their ethnic identity. During the Croatian War of Independence, waged from 1991 to 1995, military units were formed directly from The Bad Blue Boys, a supporters group for the Dinamo Zagreb soccer club. … Watching the 1998 World Cup, Franjo Tuđman, the country’s first president, said “football victories shape a nation’s identity as much as wars.”

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