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FIFA fines Croatia soccer federation following verbal abuse of Canadian keeper

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Politics dampening enthusiasm for Qatar-hosted FIFA World Cup
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FIFA has fined the Croatian soccer federation 50,000 Swiss francs (C$72,500) after the team’s fans verbally abused and taunted Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan during a game at the World Cup.

FIFA said the charge against Croatia was related to the “use of words and objects to transmit a message that is not appropriate for a sports event.”

Borjan was born in an ethnic Serbian region of Croatia. He and his family left their hometown in 1995 when it was taken by Croatian forces. The ethnic Serbs are said to have fled on tractors.

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During Canada’s 4-1 loss on Nov. 27, one banner displayed by Croatia fans used a flag of tractor manufacturer John Deere and changed the marketing slogan to target Borjan.

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

The 35-year-old has won 72 caps for Canada.

FIFA also fined the Serbian soccer federation 20,000 Swiss francs ($29,000) for a political banner about neighbouring Kosovo displayed in the locker room before playing Brazil in the team’s opening game.

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It showed a map of Serbia that included the territory of its former province, which has been an independent state for nearly 15 years, and the slogan “No Surrender.”

The Kosovo soccer federation formally complained to FIFA about the banner, which was hung over two Serbia players’ lockers on Nov. 24.

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FIFA also fined Saudi Arabia 30,000 Swiss francs ($43,500) for “team misconduct” after getting six yellow cards in games against Argentina and Mexico.

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