Slaven Bilic played the music of an ultra-nationalist Croatian rock band to his players in the team dressing room after their 1-0 victory over Austria.
“Our players were not entirely satisfied,” said Bilic “so I turned on the CD player and told them to sing because after all we won.”
Bilic, who himself plays in a rock band called, Rawbau didn't say which Thompson song was played but the band's radical lyrics and controversial comments from lead singer Marko Perkovic led to the group being banned from performing in the Netherlands in 2004.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center complained to Croatian President Stipe Mesic last year when Perkovic said: “I have nothing against the Jews, but neither did Jesus Christ, yet still they crucified Him.”
A concert scheduled to take place in the Austrian province of Carinthia this weekend was cancelled due to security concerns but Perkovic instead received an invite from Austrian far-right politician Joerg Haider to watch one of Croatia's two games in Carinthia, against Germany and Poland.
Perkovic, a superstar in Croatia, goes by the stage name Thompson – after the American submachine gun he toted for Croatia during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s.
Critics say his songs glorify the Nazi-backed Ustasha regime that ruled Croatia during World War II and was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Jews, Serbs and other Croats. A Perkovic tour of the United States last year drew protests from Jewish groups.
Perkovic says his songs are patriotic, but rejects the fascist label. The band performed for Austria's large Croatian community in Vienna in 2007 without stirring protests.
One of Thompson's songs, Lijepa li si(“You are beautiful” which refers to Croatia) is traditionally played at matches involving the Croatian national football team. However, the song was not played last year when the opposition was Israel.