UEFA penalises Croatian Football Federation

Nyon (Switzerland), July 24 (IANS) Croatia will play two matches behind closed doors and have one point deducted from their 2016 EURO qualifying tournament, European football’s governing body UEFA has ruled.

The Croatian Football Federation (HNS) will pay 100,000 euros as fine, UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body (CEDB) decided at a meeting here on Thursday, reports Xinhua.

It is the harshest penalty in Croatia’s history, which has a lengthy record of bad behaviour by their fans.

Croatia can appeal the verdict but it is highly unlikely that they will take any further steps in the matter. They have three days to appeal against the verdict.

Croatia faced charges of racist behaviour by their fans at the European qualifiers Group H home match against Italy in Split on June 12. The match ended in a 1-1 draw.

That match was played behind closed doors as Croatia was serving a one-match ban for racist behaviour.

During the match, the officials spotted swastika, the infamous Nazi symbol from World War II, engraved on the pitch of the Poljud Stadium. The Croatian police is still to nab the culprits who were responsible for that act.

The Poljud Stadium was also included in the sanction. Croatia will not be able to play their qualifying match against Bulgaria in the stadium on October 10, as was scheduled.

Croatia are the leader of Group H of EURO 2016 qualifiers with a total of 13 points and will cling on to the spot even after the deduction of the point.

Italy will now be one point behind Croatia in the second place after the deduction. Norway will be third with nine points, Bulgaria fourth with five, Azerbaijan fifth with three and Malta sixth with one point.

The best two teams from each group will earn direct qualification for the EURO 2016 tournament that will be held in France.

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