Sydney United coach Miro Vlastelica (left) with NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Darren Bark at the Sydney Jewish Museum. Photo: Flavio Brancaleone/The Sydney Morning Herald

Carly Adno
The Australian Jewish News
June 29, 2023

Sydney United coach Miro Vlastelica described his visit to the Sydney Jewish Museum (SJM) as a “humbling experience” and said the club looks forward to working with the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBD) going forward.

Last year Football Australia (FA) issued the soccer club with a $15,000 fine, as well as several suspended sanctions over the next three years, after fans were caught performing Nazi salutes during the Australia Cup final match against Macarthur FC. One fan was also seen waving the Ustasha flag – a symbol of the Croatian pro-Nazi regime.

Three men were subsequently charged under NSW laws and were banned from attending any Football Australia-sanctioned matches for life.

United’s visit to the SJM, where representatives met with NSW JBD CEO Darren Bark, was part of the club’s way of making amends through compulsory education and training with Jewish and First Nations groups.

“The visit was very informative and educational about the struggles that people of Jewish faith and other different nationalities faced, not only during the war, but postwar as well,” Vlastelica said.

“It also touched home, as it reminded me of the struggles that my family and community were also subject to during and after the war, and having lost family members in horrible circumstances at the hands of dictators.

“For someone who has never really delved into history too much, I can only say that a visit to the Jewish Museum is definitely an educational, humbling experience and one that makes me feel grateful for what we have today – peace, friendship and multiculturalism that this great country has given us. I look forward to working with Darren and his community, and again express my sincere thanks for his time and hospitality.”

Bark said the meeting with Vlastelica and a board member of the club was part of an ongoing process, and he was glad to see United’s determination to tackle the issues.

“We’ve been working very closely with Sydney United behind the scenes to ensure a better culture among the fans,” Bark said.

“I see the club’s participation sending a very clear message that racist behaviour of any kind is not tolerated.”

Sydney United is a famed football club founded by Croatian immigrants in 1958 and has produced some of Australia’s most accomplished players, including current Socceroos coach Graham Arnold.