ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Croatia defender Josip Simunic lost his appeal at sport's highest court on Monday, ruling him out of the World Cup for leading fans in a pro-Nazi chant after a playoff win.
Announcing the ruling to uphold the 10-match ban, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said it unanimously rejected Simunic's arguments and dismissed his appeal against the FIFA sanction.
Simunic's ban will start when Croatia opens the World Cup against host Brazil in Sao Paulo on June 12.
Simunic's lawyer, Davor Prtenjaca, slammed the ruling.
"This was not the victory of justice, but the power of a big football association. FIFA had its ban based on political, not legal aspects," Prtenjaca said.
Simunic invoked a World War II-era slogan used by Croatia's then-puppet regime following a playoff victory against Iceland in Zagreb last November that qualified the Croatians for the tournament.
After the match, Simunic took a microphone on the field and shouted to supporters: "To the battle, to the battle for the homeland!" The fans responded: "We are ready!"
The slogan was used by Croatia's Ustasha regime, which sent tens of thousands Jews, Serbs and Gypsies to death camps.
"The expression used by Simunic was a clear and unequivocal reference to the call used by the (Ustasas)," CAS said.
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