Camo-clad soccer fan doesn’t remember doing Nazi salute

Miklos Bolza |

Marijan Lisica says he was showing support for Croatia during the soccer match.
Marijan Lisica says he was showing support for Croatia during the soccer match.

A man who donned army camouflage and carried a home-made Croatian flag for a boozy Australia Cup soccer final says he can’t remember whether he made the Nazi salute during the game.

Three men have been charged for allegedly performing the salute at Parramatta’s CommBank Stadium on October 1, 2022, during the match between Sydney United 58 and Macarthur FC.

Nikola Marko Gasparovic, 46, Dominik Sieben, 25, and Marijan Lisica, 45, have each pleaded not guilty to one count of publicly displaying a Nazi symbol without reasonable excuse.

Sydney United 58 supporters at the Australia Cup (file image)
Three men deny they made Nazi salutes during the the Australia Cup final in 2022. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

During a hearing at Parramatta Local Court, the men’s lawyers argued the salute was a Croatian symbol that predated its use by the Nazis in World War II.

Lisica was seen at the stadium sporting full army camouflage and holding a large Croatian flag with the phrase Za Dom, meaning “for homeland”.

In CCTV footage played to the court, he is seen repeatedly putting his right arm into the air with his palm down.

Speaking to police in February 2023, Lisica said he had 10 beers before and during the game and could not remember making any salute.

“I can’t even remember because I had a few drinks,” he told Detective Sergeant Aaron Turner in an interview at Wentworthville police station.

He said he dressed in army gear and took the Za Dom banner to the game to show respect to Croatians who had died, particularly during the 1990s war.

“I just believe this is for our homeland, which is for Croatia, and that’s it,” he told police.

The phrase went back to the 1700s before it was adopted by the Nazis, he said.

“People interpret things their way,” Lisica added.

“I don’t understand why everyone always says if we put our hands up, especially us Croatians, it’s a Nazi salute.”

Dominik Sieben leaves Parramatta Local Court (file image)
Dominik Sieben denies he was supporting Nazism during the match. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

On Monday, the court was shown video footage of Sieben and Gasparovic interviewed separately by police.

Both denied their actions were supporting Nazism and said they were cheering their team and providing support to Croatia.

What counts as a Nazi symbol had not been defined under “novel” legislation introduced in August 2022, police prosecutor Jarrod Imlay said on Monday.

The three men did not know each other prior to the soccer final and were seated in different parts of the stadium, the court heard.

The offence of displaying a Nazi symbol in public comes with a maximum sentence of 12 months in prison.

The court has been given expert evidence about how Nazi symbols including the so-called “Hitler salute” are linked to Croatian nationalism and used by far-right extremists.

The hearing continues.