Croatia are facing severe punishment from Uefa after a swastika was marked out on the pitch for the drawn Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy in Split.
The game at Poljud Stadium was played behind closed doors after Croatia were punished for racist chanting during their match with Norway in March, and the symbol could be clearly seen during the Group H encounter, which ended 1-1.
Croatia’s fans further disgraced their country’s repuation last November when sporadic incidents of violence and the throwing of rocket flares by fans temporarily the reverse fixture with Italy in Milan.
On Friday, a swastika was clearly visible on the pitch at the Poljud Stadium, the home of Hajduk Split.
Croatian football federation president Davor Suker, the former West Ham and Arsenal striker, said: “I’m very angry and disappointed.”
Ground staff attempted to cover the symbol up during the half-time interval but were unable to do so and the Croatian federation expressed its regret over the incident, claiming the symbol had been emblazoned on the pitch up to 48 hours before match took place.
“We apologise to all viewers, our guests from Italy and the players from both teams, for the Nazi symbol on the Poljud Stadium grass,” press officer Tomislav Pacak said.
“Technically speaking, a chemical agent was used on the field 24 to 48 hours before the kick-off, timed to be visible during the qualifying match.
“During the half-time, we have tried to remedy the situation to the best of our abilities, given the short amount of time.”
Officials tried to remedy the ground at half-time (Photo: REX)
Pacak said Uefa had been notified about the incident and called on the police to bring those responsible to justice.
He added: “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.
“Once again, we express regret and condemn this act, and we apologise to all the viewers, guests and players from both teams.”
Source: Daily Telegraph