Croatian World Cup star Lovren rejects accusations of fascism
Dejan Lovren, a centre back who has rejoined Lyon in France, on Friday denied he sang fascist songs after Croatian victories in the World Cup or made homophobic tweets.
"I was attacked," the 33-year-old former Liverpool player told AFP in an interview in Lyon, where he also played from 2010-13.
"They distort in a negative way at once without referring to the right song. This has nothing to do with fascism."
"For me, it is a patriotic song about my country, which means that I love my country."
A video appeared after Croatia eliminated Brazil on penalties in the quarter-finals in Qatar, showing the players singing in the changing room with Lovren and Marcelo Brozovic of Inter Milan at the centre.
Lovren raised his right arm as they began singing along to a recording.
Some viewers claimed the song was 'Za dom spremni!' ('For homeland – ready!') an anthem of the Ustase fascist organisation who co-operated with the Nazis during the Second World War occupation of Yugoslavia.
Exciting feature: Check out news exactly for YOU ➡️ find "Recommended for you" block and enjoy!
"The song we are talking about is not 'Za dom spremni' but 'Cavoglave' which is not fascist at all. It goes back to the liberation of the country and to the glory of Croatia, which we all sing to celebrate a happy event. My country fought for its independence very recently and is still under construction," Lovren said.
'Bojna Cavoglave'('Cavoglave battalion') dates from 1992. It was a hit for Croatian band Thompson. It was written by the lead singer Marko Petkovic, who fought in a local Croatian militia in the Yugoslav wars.
"It is not good that my stay starts like this. I respect everyone. The first person who congratulated me after the World Cup was Novak Djokovic who is Serbian. A country where I have many friends," Lovren said.
In April, Lovren, who was playing for Zenit Saint Petersburg at the time, also attracted criticism after tweeting a photo which seemed to show him cancelling his Disney+ subscription just after the American media company had made clear its opposition to Florida's 'Don't Say Gay' legislation.
Lovren said he had again been misunderstood, adding he had supported campaigns against racism by football's world and european governing bodies.
"I have taken a stand for FIFA and UEFA, against discrimination and racism, notably by supporting Moise Kean of Juventus and recently Samuel Umtiti, as well as for the rights of refugees. I also supported the Black Lives Matter," he said.
"I have always thought that discrimination had no place in the world of soccer and now I am attacked on this subject.
"As for the LGBT, there was never a problem and I never had a problem with all these subjects."
© Agence France-Presse