Lucy Zelic speaks out over 'embarrassing' scenes at Australia Cup final

Lucy Zelic and Craig Foster are pictured at the Logie Awards.
Award-winning football presenter Lucy Zelic says she was 'embarrassed' by the actions of some Croatian fans at the Australia Cup final. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Lucy Zelic says the crowd's behaviour at the Australia Cup final between Macarthur and Sydney United 58 was 'embarrassing' and called for criminal charges against fans who performed Nazi salutes at the ground.

The football community was thrust into the spotlight over the weekend after ugly scenes broke out at the showcase of Australian club football, with spectators booing loudly during the Welcome to Country prior to the game.

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Footage also showed a number of supporters throwing Nazi salutes, while there were also widespread reports of spectators chanting Za Dom Spremni (For Homeland - Ready) - a chant used by the far-right fascist Ustase movement in Croatia in the 1930s and 1940s.

Zelic, a former football presenter for SBS who is of Croatian heritage, said what had unfolded at the game was 'devastating', with not only Football Australia but NSW premier Dominic Perrottet condemning the behaviour of fans.

Sydney United 58 have pledged to track down fascist fans after the club was hit by a catch-all notice from soccer's hierarchy.

Football Australia (FA) has a broad brush of sanctions available under a show-cause notice issued in the aftermath of Saturday night's Australia Cup final.

Zelic took to Twitter to register her disgust at what had unfolded, profoundly disappointed in the actions of those in attendance.

Danijel Nizic of Sydney United, pictured here thanking fans after the Australia Cup final.
Danijel Nizic of Sydney United thanks fans after the Australia Cup final. (Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“I’m a proud Croatian. I was raised by two immigrants who lost friends and family in the war – my Aunty Tereža was tragically killed after stepping on a rogue mine right near her home,” she wrote.

“Our history is laced with much struggle, grief and loss but immense resilience.

“Growing up with an ethnic background, I knew what it was like to be on the receiving end of racism and was often told, ‘f*** of back to Croatia wog’. I was confused because Australia was my home and we were so, so proud of it.

“I was born in the 80s and was never raised to be a fascist, racist or antisemitic – it wasn’t an option. We knew what being treated differently because of your ethnicity, and losing loved ones in senseless war felt like.

“What happened at last night’s @AustraliaCup Final was shocking and simply devastating, and I didn’t want to believe it. It was the first time I felt embarrassed by the actions of my fellow countrymen and I wasn’t alone.”

NSW premier, Football Australia shocked by fascist chants, nazi salutes

Perrottet says the offensive fans must be banned for life.

"It was absolutely horrendous," he told reporters on Monday.

"It has no place, not just at sporting games, but anywhere in our state, and I know the police are looking at it.

"Those people who have done that through those salutes should be banned for life."

Sydney United condemned the behaviour of some spectators, saying they did not reflect the "wider views of the club" and its fans.

"Sydney United 58 FC has zero tolerance towards any form of disrespect, racism or discrimination and is working closely with authorities to conduct a full investigation," a club statement said.

"The club strongly condemns any behaviour that does not reflect the wider views of the club and its loyal supporters."

United are co-operating with the FA, who have issued the club with a show cause notice detailing "a number of alleged infringements".

Fans of Sydney United 58 hold up a banner reading 'Forever Croatia' at the Australia Cup final.
Fans of Sydney United 58 were accused of brazen acts of disrespect after boos rang out during the Welcome to Country, as well as some spectators spotted doing what appeared to be nazi salutes. (Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

"The club has separately been also asked to help identify individuals who displayed anti-social and harmful behaviour," FA said in a statement.

NPL NSW side United were the first non A-League Men's team to reach the cup final but that achievement - which culminated in a 2-0 loss to Macarthur FC - was tarnished by a section of spectators.

United said such spectators had no place at their games.

"The club is deeply committed to creating an environment that is respectful and inclusive which also allows our community members to celebrate their heritage in a meaningful and responsible way," a statement said.

"Those that do not align themselves with these values are not welcome at Sydney United 58 FC and their views will never be tolerated.

"Multiculturalism and inclusivity are two of the game's fundamental pillars and will continue to be a priority for our club and its supporters."

United hosted the cup final at western Sydney's Commbank Stadium - under FA rules, the home club is "responsible and liable for the conduct of its supporters" with sanctions ranging from reprimands to bans from competition.

With AAP

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