Friday, June 20, 2008

Well at Least He Has His Health...

The superlative and very funny French football magazine So Foot dubbed Group B of this European Championship (the one containing co-hosts Austria, Germany, Poland and Croatia) the 'anschluss group', a delightfully insensitive quip, but which has been proven to be pertinent in the light of events in the past week. While Croatia have been rock solid in defence so far, conceding only a late goal to Germany's Lukas Podolski, one of their countrymen, former Ustashe chief of police Milivoj Ašner let his guard slip by being out and about to enjoy the football in his town of domicile Klagenfurt, where Croatia played their games against Germany and Poland. Ašner, 95, who cunningly goes by the name of Georg Aschner in Austria, escaped extradition to his native land two years ago to be tried for war crimes, as the Austrian government claimed he was in too poor health to stand trial. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre has again called on the Austrians to extradite him and that renowned organ of Nazi-hunting, The Sun, has snapped a hale and hearty Ašner with his wife among revelling football fans. Croatia has been criticised for its team's links to far-right groups but the country is surely doing more to atone for a shameful chapter of its past than Austria is by protecting this criminal. I wonder does it have anything to do with Klagenfurt being the home and fief of that pin-up boy of the far-right, Jörg Haider? And I wonder what Mister Ašner's secret for a long and healthy life is?