Sat, Jun 20, 2015 - Page 18 News List

HNS charged over image on pitch


Police officers measure a faint pattern of what appears to be a swastika after the game between Croatia and Italy at the Poljud Stadium in Split, Croatia, on June 12.

Photo: Reuters

Police filed charges on Thursday against the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) and two officials over a swastika that was apparently scrawled on the pitch during Croatia’s 1-1 draw with Italy in a Euro 2016 qualifier.

The charges were filed with a court in Split, on the central Adriatic coast, for negligence and lapses in the organization of the June 12 match, the state-run HINA news agency reported.

If the Split tribunal confirms the charges and if found guilty, the HNS could be fined up to 250,000 kunas (US$37,000) and the officials up to 50,000 kunas.

HINA identified the officials as HNS executive president Damir Vrbanovic and Zoran Cvrk, who is in charge of security.

The charges were brought after a criminal investigation into the incident, which occurred at the Poljud Stadium in Split.

UEFA had ordered the match to be played behind closed doors as a punishment for fan violence and racist incidents when Croatia played Norway earlier in the qualifying campaign.

However, a swastika appeared to be visible on the field at the ground, which is where Croatian top-flight side HNK Hajduk Split play, and UEFA said they would take action over “racist behavior.”

Groundsmen struggled to cover up the Nazi symbol at halftime of the qualifying Group H encounter, and the HNS later issued a public apology.

“This was an obvious act of sabotage and a criminal act. We condemn it and ask the police and judicial bodies to find the person(s) responsible for what is a shame not only for Croatian football, but the entire country,” an HNS statement said.

UEFA opened disciplinary proceedings against the HNS on Monday. The decision on whether to take any action is to be made on July 16.

Police were still searching for the perpetrators. The results of a probe conducted by a forensics center in Zagreb trying to identify the substance used to draw the swastika were not available.

U-21 Championship

In Group B games at the UEFA European Under-21 Championship played in the Czech Republic on Thursday, Sweden beat Italy 2-1, while England went down to Portugal 1-0.

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