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Croatia sentences football fans to jail over pro-Nazi songs

A Croatian court said Tuesday it had sentenced eight football fans to jail terms of up to two months for glorifying the country’s World War II pro-Nazi regime at a Euro 2024 qualifier.

Twelve people were arrested at the weekend on suspicion of singing songs about the Ustasha regime at Croatia’s 1-0 defeat to Turkey last week in the eastern town of Osijek.

After being questioned at the Osijek municipal court, one fan was sentenced to two months in jail and seven others to 30-day jail terms, a spokeswoman for the tribunal told AFP.

They were also banned from attending national team matches both in Croatia and abroad for a year.

Proceedings against one fan were still ongoing, the spokeswoman said. 

The verdicts can be appealed.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic condemned the incident, saying it was done by “people who wish evil to Croatia’s national team”.

European football’s governing body UEFA has already fined Croatia 10,000 euros ($10,600) after fans displayed the Ustasha flag during the European qualifier against Latvia in September.

The Croatian Football Federation (HNS) has repeatedly condemned fans’ pro-Nazi attitudes and their use of Ustasha insignia and Nazi salutes.

World football’s governing body FIFA has on several occasions fined the HNS over the behaviour of Croatian fans.

Croatia, the 2018 World Cup semi-finalists, find themselves at risk of missing out on a major tournament for the first time since the 2010 World Cup after back-to-back defeats against Turkey and Wales in Euro 2024 qualifying.

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