Saturday 20 January 2018

Euro 2012: Croatia face racism probe over abuse of Balotelli

Ben Rumsby

UEFA moved to stamp out racism at the European Championship for the first time after opening disciplinary proceedings against Croatia over the alleged abuse of Mario Balotelli.

European football's governing body announced they were taking action against the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) yesterday over racist chanting by their fans in the country's 1-1 Group C draw against Italy on Thursday.

It is understood claims a banana was thrown onto the field in Poznan were taken into account, as was the displaying of racist banners at the Municipal Stadium.

"UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) for the setting-off and throwing of fireworks, and the improper conduct of supporters (racist chants, racist symbols) at the UEFA Euro 2012 Group C match against Italy in Poznan on Thursday," the association said in a statement.

"The UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body will deal with the case on June 19."

UEFA acted after the Football Against Racism in Europe network announced their observers heard between 300 and 500 Croatia fans chanting monkey noises at Italy striker Balotelli in Thursday's match.

That followed reports a photographer witnessed a steward retrieving a banana from the pitch as well as hearing the same chants.

It is understood UEFA are also still probing allegations the Manchester City striker, 21, was subjected to monkey chants in Italy's opening match against Spain last Sunday.

The Italian Football Federation decided against making an official complaint against that or Thursday's alleged repeat episode because none of their delegation had witnessed it at the time.

As well as incidents surrounding Balotelli, UEFA have been looking into claims Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie was subjected to monkey chants during his side's Group A opener against Russia on Friday, June 8.

The announcement of proceedings against Croatia followed a €25,000 fine on Friday after their fans set off and threw fireworks and missiles, and a supporter invaded the pitch, during last Sunday's 3-1 win over Ireland.

The HNS were fined £14,920 (€18,500) by FIFA just under four years ago after then England striker Emile Heskey was subjected to monkey chants in a World Cup qualifier in Zagreb.

Croatia were also given a small fine in Euro 2008 for racist abuse from their fans during their game against Turkey.

The HNS condemned the "deviant" fans who had shamed their country, but urged UEFA to spare them further sanctions.

"(The) Croatian Football Federation distances itself from all deviant behaviour of the part of the fans during the final tournament of UEFA Euro 2012 and strongly condemns it," the HNS said in a statement.

Russia were hit last week with a suspended six-point deduction for their Euro 2016 campaign over the behaviour of their fans at Euro 2012, which included the display of extremist banners.

Sunday Indo Sport

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport