UEFA taking disciplinary action over Croatia fans; HNS apologises

UEFA confirmed Saturday disciplinary action against the Croatian football federation (HNS) after stadium disturbances of its fans at a Euro 2016 match in St Etienne.

A spokesperson for European football's organizing body said the disciplinary committee is to meet Monday to discuss possible sanctions.

The HNS meanwhile issued an official apology on its website in which it also accused the nation's government of not taking action against the troublemakers which had now resulted in that "we have all become hostages of a group of hooligans."

Croatia's Euro 2016 match against Czech Republic on Friday was interrupted after 87 minutes when flares were fired onto the pitch and supporters started fighting among themselves.

Croatia were leading 2-1 at the time. After the match was restarted, the Czechs equalized in the dying seconds of the game with a penalty to complete a comeback from two goals down.

Croatian fans have been involved in a number of incidents at past tournaments and internationals which have led to UEFA sanctions.

"Croatian Football Federation would like to apologize to the spectators at Saint-Etienne, to the television audience, and the Czech Republic national football team," HNS said in Saturday's statement.

"Preparing this match, HNS has done everything in its power to prevent the incidents and warned UEFA and French police about the hooligans' intentions to interrupt the match."

It said "the inefficiency, inactivity and the lack of desire from the government institutions" has encouraged the troublemakers.

"The Saint-Etienne incident is the product of the passivity of the Croatian state, and today we have all become hostages of a group of hooligans."

Former Croatia midfield star Robert Prosinecki struck a similar note.

"It was intentional, a planned provocation. It is always the same," Prosinecki told dpa. "But it is also a problem of the Croatian state. It is always the same 50 hooligans and they know exactly who they are. But nothing is happening."

There seems to be a consensus that the incidents are to harm the leadership of Croatian football, headed by former star player Davor Suker, and its problems with corruption and mafia-like structures. This appears more pressing than to ensure success of the team.

In addition, there are also right-wing groups of fans.

"Who gives them the right to steal the tournament from (Luka) Modric, (Ivan) Rakitic and (Ivan) Perisic?" the Vecernji List paper asked Saturday.

Also under investigation by UEFA, and to be discussed Monday, is Turkey after its fans lit fireworks, threw objects onto the pitch and attempted to invade the pitch.

Last update: Sat, 18/06/2016 - 20:26
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