Premier, Jewish leaders slam Nazi salutes
Lachlan Leeming and Anton Nilsson
The Daily Telegraph
October 3, 2022
Jewish leaders and NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet have condemned the behaviour of Sydney soccer fans “in the strongest possible terms” after patches of supporters appeared to do Nazi salutes and jeered during the Welcome to Country at a packed match.
More than 16,000 fans filled CommBank Stadium to watch Saturday’s Australia Cup final between Sydney United 58 FC and Macarthur FC, but the match has been overshadowed by videos from the night appearing to show Sydney United fans partaking in racist chants and performing the Nazi ‘Sieg Heil’ salute.
Coverage of the match also clearly picked up boos and chants which almost drowned out the Welcome to Country address at the start of the match.
Video posted online appeared to show Sydney United 58 fans also chanting ‘Za Dom, Spremni’, a World War II-era slogan of the far-right Croatian Ustase movement, which was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jews, Serbs and Roma during the war.
Sydney United 58 FC was founded by Croatian immigrants and was originally known as Sydney Croatia.
The incident has prompted the Premier, who said he was horrified by the spectators’ behaviour, to call for life bans preventing them from attending further matches.
“This behaviour is not acceptable in our great country.”
NSW Police have confirmed the local area command is investigating the incident, and are urging anyone with information to contact the Parramatta Police Station.
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Darren Bark said the display of Nazi salutes and chants were “vile” and “have no place in modern Australian society”.
“They represent the ultimate manifestation of evil – an evil which led to the murder of millions of innocent civilians during WWII, including six million Jews and thousands of Australian Diggers who lost their lives fighting against the Nazis during WWII,” he said.
Professional Footballers Australia, which represents pro players across the country, was one of the few bodies to issue a public statement on fans’ behaviour.
“On the pitch the match reflected the universal values of fairness, respect and courage that should define our sport,” the statement from PFA co-chief executives Beau Busch and Kathryn Gill said.
“Unfortunately, in the stands these values were shattered.”
The body said “players will engage with First Nations peoples and also other groups targeted – and rightly distressed – by alleged fascist chanting and gestures”.
In a statement governing body Football Australia said eight fans were thrown out of the match for their behaviour.
“Football Australia prides itself on being the most multicultural, diverse, and inclusive sport in Australia,” a spokesman said.
“However, Football Australia acknowledges and strongly condemns the actions of a small minority of individuals who engaged in behaviour that is not consistent with Football Australia’s values and wider community expectations.”
The governing body said it was assessing footage and images “of certain individuals which are of concern to our organisation and the broader Australian football community, including the displaying of the ‘Hitler salute’”.
Both Sydney United 58 FC and Macarthur FC were contacted for comment.