Melbourne, Jan. 19 (ANI): A Croatian spokeswoman has blamed the Australian media for vilifying Croat tennis fans, and portraying them in racist colours at the Australian Open.
Australia Croatia Community Services committee member Linda Paric said that "no other community in the history of this country has been (as) vilified repeatedly".
According to a report published in the Herald Sun, "the racist goons - some wearing Croatian colours - intimidated other fans, let of flares and spat on, then slapped a Herald Sun photographer."
However, Paric described the Herald Sun's coverage as "predictable annual hysterical reporting and negative portrayal of the Croatian community is disappointing and a real comment on our media and its role".
"I say shame on the media for not taking it's role as the fourth estate responsibly, and I also say shame on them because the first thing that is plastered everywhere is Croatia and Croats," she added.
Asked whether she denied they were Croatian supporters, she said "I have no idea whether they are not. I have been looking at pictures in the Herald Sun. And, while some of them are wearing chequered tops ... a lot of them are wearing hoodies."
She claimed they were wearing hoodies "because they're teenagers".
"Every year it is portrayed as the Croatian community, and this is the problem with it ... every single year."
Paric disputed whether the front page photograph clearly showing a Nazi salute was what it appeared.
"The Nazi salute. I really challenge that ... there's also a three-fingered salute in that. When did that become the Nazi salute? In the same picture taken from different angles. I'd really like to see that picture uncropped," she said. (ANI)