Croatia apologises for on-pitch Swastika symbol

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Split (Croatia), June 13 (IANS) The Croatian Football Federation (HNS) has apologised after a swastika symbol was imprinted on the pitch ahead of their Euro 2016 home qualifier against Italy.

“This is sabotage and a felony. We expect police to identify the perpetrators. This is a disgrace not just for the HNS but for the whole of Croatia,” HNS spokesman Tomislav Pacak was quoted as saying by BBC on Friday.

The swastika – widely recognised as the symbol of Nazi Germany – was seen during the first half and although the ground staff tried to cover it up at the breather they were unsuccessful. The game ended 1-1. It still remains to be verified whether the symbol was mowed or painted into the grass.

The encounter unfolded in an empty stadium after Croatian fans were punished for their racist chants against Norway in March. Pacak added the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has been informed about the incident.

“As far as we have learned, the symbol was imprinted into the pitch between 24 and 48 hours before the match so that it could be visible during the game. We apologise to all fans watching the game on television, to both teams and to our guests from Italy for the Nazi symbol,” said Pacak.

HNS president Davor Suker said: “It’s one of our problems and we are working to fix it. We’ll speak about it on Saturday, but I’m very angry.”

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