UEFA charge Croatia and Turkey over crowd trouble

Croatia have been charged over the crowd disturbances which marred the latter stages of their Euro 2016 match against the Czech Republic yesterday.

Flares were thrown on the pitch and fighting broke out in the Croatian section during their 2-2 Group D draw. Referee Mark Clattenburg was forced to stop the game with four minutes left while a steward was almost hit by a firecracker, as was Croatian goalscorer Ivan Perisic.

Croatia’s national team coach Ante Cacic described the individuals responsible for the trouble as “sports terrorists” and European football’s governing body has now confirmed the opening of disciplinary proceedings against the national federation. It has also charged Turkey in relation to crowd trouble during their match against Spain yesterday evening, with hearings set for Monday.

UEFA said Croatia’s federation had been charged over the setting off of fireworks, the throwing of objects, crowd disturbance and racist behaviour. Turkey face charges of setting off fireworks, throwing objects and invading the pitch.

The moment a firecracker went of dangerously close to a steward and players.
The moment a firecracker went of dangerously close to a steward and players.

This is not the first time the Croatian federation has faced sanctions. Flares were hurled onto the pitch during a Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy in November 2014 and the team were ordered to play the return match against the Italians in June 2015 behind closed doors as punishment for racist behaviour during a match against Norway two months earlier. But even the stadium ban did not prevent disturbance, with a swastika being cut into the pitch in Split before the Italian match. UEFA reacted by docking Croatia one qualifying point, ordering them to play two further matches behind closed doors and issuing a €100,000 fine.

Croatia coach Cacic said after the match on Friday: “These people are really scary, that is why I call them hooligans. These are not really Croatian supporters. These are sports terrorists. The main thing our country doesn’t want to mess with are these kind of hooligans.This is maybe just a question about six to 10 individuals. I hope they can be identified and punished. I hope the Croatia FA is doing everything to prevent this but it is impossible to avoid.Ninety-five per cent of our supporters are ashamed in front of Europe, the players are very sad that after playing a beautiful match this happens.”

Barcelona midfielder and scorer of Croatia’s second goal Ivan Rakitic fears the team could be thrown out of Euro 2016 after the crowd trouble.”We have to see if we will play against Spain, maybe they will send us home after this,” he said. “There are a lot more fans that love the national team and they will not be able to see Croatia play.It is hard to say, but we feel more comfortable playing away… we were lucky that the match went on, the referee wanted to end it immediately.”

Russia have already been handed a suspended disqualification from the tournament, which will be activated if their supporters are involved in any more trouble, following disturbances at the end of their match against England at the Stade Velodrome last Saturday when Russian hooligans set off flares and charged into the English section.

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