Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan has blasted “primitive” Croatian fans who ruthlessly antagonised the 35-year-old.
Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan has labelled Croatian fans who taunted him about his refugee past as “primitive”.
Borjan was born in Knin, which is in modern day Croatia, but was of Serbian ethnicity and was forced to flee during the Croatian War of Independence.
Borjan, who was eight at the time, fled in 1995 to Belgrade, before he and his family emigrated to Canada.
He has been in the Canadian national team since 2010, having played 70 matches and was a big part of his adopted nation making their second World Cup Finals.
The keeper has played much of his career in Europe and currently plays for Red Star Belgrade.
But Borjan got Croatian fans noses out of joint before the World Cup when he said he was born in Kajina, Serbian Dalmatia, rather than Croatia.
There is still plenty of tension between Serbia and Croatia, and Borjan bore the brunt of the Croatian fans’ ire.
A banner of a John Deere tractor featuring the words “Knin 95, nothing runs like a Borjan” referred to when the Canadian shot-stopper fled his hometown in 1995, as many others escaped on tractors.
Borjan fled his home town of Knin as an 8-year-old in 1995.
Croatian fans also chanted “Borjan is a Ustase”, which was a pro-Nazi World War II extremist group which was responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of Serbian and Jewish people during the war.
The Sun’s assistant sports editor Sam Street highlighted the abuse from the Croatian fans.
Borjan saluted the crowd with a three-fingered Serbian salute and took aim at the deplorable vitriol spewed in his direction.
“It shows how primitive people are,” he said. “I have nothing to comment on that. They should work on themselves and their families, because they obviously have some frustration, so they come here to vent.
“These are children who show that they do not know what it is and how it was, that says everything about them.
“Kudos to the Croatia players. They behaved like gentlemen.”
Borjan also revealed he had received 2500 text messages after his phone number was leaked. But despite the harassment, he said he wouldn’t take the issue further with the Canadian Football Association
Canada were eliminated after a 4-1 loss to Croatia as Andrej Kramaric’s double inspired the big win.
Zlatko Dalic’s side were stunned by Alphonso Davies’s second-minute opener at the Khalifa International Stadium.
But Hoffenheim forward Kramaric equalised and Marko Livaja put the 2018 World Cup runners-up ahead just before halftime.
Borjan had no beef with the Croatian players.
Second-half goals from Kramaric and Lovro Majer ensured Croatia could celebrate their first win of the tournament after a goalless draw with Morocco in their first match.
Croatia sit top of Group F, above Morocco on goal difference, and a draw in their final game against Belgium on Thursday would guarantee they reach the last 16.
It was an especially sweet success for Croatia after Canada boss John Herdman irked Dalic’s men with his profane attempt to inspire his players after a 1-0 defeat against Belgium in their group opener.
In a television interview, Herdman told his players: “They belong here. And we’re going to go and eff Croatia.” Dalic had taken exception to Herdman’s rant, insisting on Saturday that his team deserved “respect” from their opponents.
Croatia’s 24 Sata tabloid ran a full-page photo of a naked man below Herdman’s superimposed head, with maple leaf flags over his mouth and private parts and a headline that translated as “You have the mouth, but do you have the balls as well?”
Herdman refused to shake hands with Dalic after the match.