The Croatia Soccer Federation has been fined CAN$72,500 ($53,213) after its fans verbally abused and taunted a Canadian goalkeeper during a World Cup match in Qatar, FIFA announced Wednesday.
FIFA launched an investigation into the incident which occurred during the Nov. 27 match which Croatia won 4-1.
The world’s governing football federation found Croatia’s fans were guilty of the “use of words and objects to transmit a message that is not appropriate for a sports event.”
Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan was born in the Serbian region of Yugoslavia and was living in the country when it became involved in a conflict that split Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
Borjan, now 35. was 13 when his family moved to Canada. Although he plays for the Serbian club, Red Star Belgrade, he has won 71 caps for Canada.
His family left in 1995 after their hometown was taken by Canadian forces and there were rumors that some Serbs fled the conflict on tractors.
The verbal abuse and taunting included fans holding a banner of a John Deere, a tractor maker, and changed the company’s slogan to “Nothing Runs Like a Deere” to taunt the Canadian goalkeeper.
Croatia was not the only club fined by FIFA.
The Serbian Soccer Federation was fined for displaying a disparaging banner about Kosovo and the Saudi Arabian team was fined for getting six yellow cards in matches against Argentina and Mexico.