World Cup

FIFA opens disciplinary case against Croatia for fan taunts of Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan

FIFA opened a disciplinary case against Croatia on Tuesday because of its fans' taunts aimed at Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan, who has Serbian family ties, during the teams' World Cup game.

Canada Soccer officially filed formal complaint

Canadian goalie Milan Borjan was born in an ethnic Serb region of Croatia that was part of the conflict that split the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. (Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

FIFA opened a disciplinary case against Croatia on Tuesday because of its fans' taunts aimed at Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan, who has Serbian family ties, during the teams' World Cup game.

FIFA said the case against the Croatian soccer federation was "due to the behaviour of its fans" and cited rules relating to discrimination and security at games. It followed a formal complaint by Canada Soccer.

Borjan was born in an ethnic Serb region of Croatia that was part of the conflict that split the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Borjan's family left their hometown in 1995 when it was taken by Croatian forces amid stories that ethnic Serbs fled on tractors.

'We support Milan'

During Canada's 4-1 loss Sunday, one banner displayed by Croatia fans used a flag of tractor manufacturer John Deere and changed the marketing slogan to target Borjan. The abuse was especially loud in the second half when Borjan's goal was right in front of the Croatia fans.

"We support Milan. There's a big history behind that [and] most educated people know about it. So he kind of educated us on it a little bit before the game [against Croatia]," Canadian midfielder Jonathan Osorio told reporters on Tuesday.

"We kind of knew what he was going to go through in that game. We told him 'we are behind you at all times.' Unfortunately there were some discriminatory things that happened in the game toward him. Of course, nobody, I think, tolerates that, not in Canada. I hope the right thing is done by everything that has happened."

WATCH l FIFA investigating Croatia after fans taunt Canada's goalkeeper:

FIFA investigating Croatia after fans taunt Canada's goalkeeper

2 months ago
Duration 2:04
FIFA opened a disciplinary case against Croatia after taunts from the team’s fans during their World Cup game were aimed at Canada’s goalkeeper, Milan Borjan. Borjan was born in an ethnic Serb region of Croatia.

Croatian soccer federation spokesman Tomislav Pacak wouldn't comment on the specific case but said the organization "always condemns any sort of racism, any form of discrimination and we call on the fans and every individual not to behave in that manner."

Borjan was 13 when his family moved to Canada — initially Winnipeg and then Hamilton a year later. He plays his club football for storied Serbian club Red Star Belgrade.

FIFA gave no timetable for a verdict in the case, which would typically be settled with a fine for the federation.

The 35-year-old has won 71 caps for Canada.

With files from The Canadian Press and CBC Sports

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