2 Croatia players face World Cup bans by FIFA

Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic risks being suspended for all three

World Cup group matches when FIFA judges his disciplinary case on

Thursday.

FIFA said Tuesday that its disciplinary panel will also consider

a case against Croatia defender Joe Simunic, who led fans in Zagreb

chanting a fascist slogan after the team qualified by beating

Iceland last month.

Mandzukic will miss the World Cup opener against Brazil after

being sent off for an appalling studs-high challenge in the playoff

second-leg match.

The Bayern Munich player gets an automatic one-match ban for his

challenge on the left knee of Iceland’s Johann Gudmundsson.

The FIFA panel can impose a longer sanction, with disciplinary

rules requiring bans of at least one match for ”serious foul

play” and at least two matches for ”assaulting (elbowing,

punching, kicking etc.).”

Croatia also plays Cameroon and Mexico in Group A.

Croatia coach Niko Kovac has said he expects Mandzukic to miss a

maximum of two matches, and still intends to select the star

forward in his squad.

In the second case, FIFA has acted against Simunic ”for his own

behavior and other proceedings were opened against Croatia

(football federation) for improper conduct of the spectators.”

Simunic took a microphone following Croatia’s 2-0 victory and

shouted to supporters: ”For the homeland!” Fans responded:

”Ready!”

The call was used by the Croatian pro-Nazi puppet regime that

ruled the state during World War II.

FIFA’s definition of ”improper conduct” in its disciplinary

code includes ”displaying insulting or political slogans in any

form, uttering insulting words.”

Simunic later apologized after first defending his action,

saying he was driven by love for his country.

He was fined $4,300 by Croatian public prosecutors for

”spreading racial hatred.”