Greek TV used Croatian movie to show football fans performing Nazi salute

After a Greek football fan was killed on the sidelines of a Champions League game due to be held in Athens on August 7, 2023, Greek media produced numerous stories about the hardcore supporters of the rival Croatian football club implicated in the violence. In one report, the private TV channel Skai used sequences from a Croatian drama to supposedly portray the Bad Blue Boys the “ultras” of the Dinamo Zagreb team chanting a fascist slogan and performing a Nazi salute. But these men were actors. 

A 29-year-old fan of Greek side AEK Athens was fatally stabbed during violence outside the club’s home stadium late on August 7, 2023. By August 13, 105 people had been arrested and charged for involvement.

In its evening news bulletin of August 9, the private TV channel Skai ran a feature on the Bad Blue Boys. The piece uses real-life footage of the Croatian club’s supporters chanting, marching, performing Nazi-style salutes and fighting. However, it also includes images that are not of the fans, but come from the film.

Screenshots of the misleading segments of the Skai report on YouTube (left) and in an online article (right). Images captured on 14/8/2023

The acted sequences are between 2:35-2:43 and 3:33-3:46 of the Skai report. We see a group of men, one of whom is wearing a scarf with the Dinamo Zagreb logo, chanting “Za dom spremni!” and performing a Nazi-style salute. The slogan — which means “For homeland – ready!” — was used by Croatia’s Nazi-backed Ustasha movement.

Nowhere does the channel indicate that these are images taken from a film, leaving the false impression that the actors are real football supporters.

The same news item was also published by the Greek online site on August 11.

One of the actors in the 2009 film, which was titled “Metastases” in English, criticised the use of scenes from the movie in the news report as an attempt at ”propaganda, denigration and generalisation”.

A film about hooliganism in Croatia

A reverse video search based on the key frames of these sequences enabled us to find a video on YouTube labelled in Croatian “Metastaze-Za dom spremni”. The video shows the same bald person seen in the Skai report shouting and saluting.

An advanced web search using the keywords “Metastaze + Zagreb” took us to an IMDb page for a 2009 film entitled “Metastaze” (Croatian). According to the synopsis, it is the story of four friends in Zagreb in 1999 who are struggling with alcohol, drugs, hooliganism, crime and their country’s past.

A second search on YouTube enabled us to find the entire film here. The sequences shown in the report are between 30:43-30:46, 30:50-31:06 and 31:15-31:24 of the film. This is the same film, as this image comparison shows.

Screenshot of the misleading YouTube video (left) and the Croatian movie (right). Images captured on 14/8/2023

Actor speaks out

Croatian actor Rene Bitorajac — who starred in the film — criticised on Instagram the unflagged inclusion of sequences from the drama in a news report.

“I always wanted to be in the Greek news!” he commented ironically in Croatian. Saying he condemned hooliganism and incitement, he pointed out “the use of scenes from a feature film (not a documentary) for the purpose of propaganda, denigration and generalisation.”

“Each individual is responsible for his actions, but law enforcement agencies must protect others,” he wrote.

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Author(s): Bronwen Roberts, AFP Greece

Originally published here.