The Croatian football team has sparked controversy after a video surfaced on social media platforms allegedly showing its players singing songs by controversial nationalist Croatian singer Marko Perkovic, or ‘Thompson’, to celebrate advancing to the World Cup semi-finals.
The videos circulated online on Monday showed the players singing what many brand as “neo-fascist” songs.
In his songs, ‘Thompson’ makes explicit references to the criminal “Herzeg-Bosnia” regime during wartime in Bosnia, whose senior leadership had a direct role in committing crimes against humanity.
Thompson’s concerts have been banned in several countries, including Slovenia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and cities in Croatia and Bosnia after people protested his reported association with nostalgia for the fascist Croatian World War II Ustasa movement or Ustashe, the name of the fascist party behind that state.
In the chorus of his popular patriotic song Lijepa li si (“You are beautiful”), the song salutes the different Croatian regions, as well as the Croat-led entity Herzeg Bosnia.
One of his songs opens with the chant “Za dom spremni!”—“Ready for the home[land],” the Croatian version of the Nazi salute “Sieg Heil“.
He even performed a song celebrating the Jasenovac concentration camp, where the Ustashe killed an estimated 100,000 people, local media outlets had alleged, according to reports.
This is not such first instance to occur with the team, as the Croatian players were also seen celebrating their World Cup run the same way during the 2018 World Cup, at the time, however, the singer himself was present.
After winning the silver medal in second-place, the Croatia team celebrated alongside Thompson as he joined the players on stage while they rode in a triumph parade from Zagreb’s airport, in front of tens of thousands of spectators in the city’s centre.
The controversial Thompson did not enter the stage by himself, though. Luka Modric, the team’s captain, insisted that he be given the opportunity to perform a song.
“Thompson is the product of a society and a political class that has shown little desire to come to terms with the worst moments of Croatia’s past,” penned a Balkans-based journalist in Foreign Policy.
The Ustase dictatorship of Croatian fascist leader Ante Pavelic slaughtered an estimated 100,000 Serbs, Jews, Roma, and other people in the Jasenovac camp, which was founded in 1941.
The Nazis committed a genocide against the Jews during World War II. Concentration camps received the majority of the Jews living in the nations that Nazi Germany had seized. Six million Jews perished in camps and on trains.
Ethnic cleansing of Bosniak Muslims
Ethnic cleansing occurred during the Bosnian War, also known as the Srebrenica Genocide, which lasted from 1992 to 1995.
Bosnian Serb forces attacked the town of Srebrenica in July 1995, resulting in the deaths of over 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys, despite Dutch peacekeeping troops being there.
In order to establish a state, the Serb forces attempted to seize territory from Bosnian Muslims and Croats.
The United Nations Security Council designated Srebrenica as a “safe area” in the spring of 1993. The UN zone was overrun by soldiers under the command of Gen. Ratko Mladic, who was ultimately judged guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.
As Serb soldiers captured the area and killed almost 2,000 men and boys on July 11 alone, Dutch troops abstained from doing anthing. Although about 15,000 Srebrenica inhabitants fled to the nearby mountains, Serb troops pursued them and slaughtered an additional 6,000 civilians.
In 570 different locations around the nation, victims’ bodies have been discovered.
The International Court of Justice in The Hague declared in 2007 that Srebrenica had experienced genocide.
Mladic was sentenced to life in prison for the Bosnia and Herzegovina genocide, as well as for persecution, crimes against humanity, extermination, and other war crimes on June 8, 2021, by the judges of the UN tribunal.
‘Reeking of racism and imperialism’
Taking a hit at the bizarre behaviour of the European team, one social media user quoted the speech of Joseph Borrell, foreign policy chief of the EU, as it was seen by many as “reeking of racism and imperialism” and mirroring outdated views arising out of the superiority complex of the West.
The quote read: “Europe is a garden, we have built a garden. Everything works… much of the rest of the world is a jungle”.
Another such frustrated user wrote “this, for the western media is not a problem. however Moroccon players thanking Allah [God] for the victory by raising a finger is a sign of ISIS and terrorism,” referring to the recent German television, The Welt, anchor compared the Moroccan national team with the Islamic State militant group as they rose their index fingers, claiming the gesture caused “irritation”.
Another user, referring to the fascist denotations that were being disregarded while Thompson’s songs were being celebrated wrote: “as I said: KKKroatia”. The Ku Klux Klan commonly known as the KKK, is an American white supremacist, right-wing terrorist, and hate group whose primary targets every and any non-White identity.