Croatia federation urges fans to give peace a chance

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ZAGREB: Croatia’s football federation urged fans to steer clear of violence when the country play Spain at Euro 2016 on Tuesday.

Croatia has been warned by UEFA after flares were thrown and fighting erupted around its game against Czech Republic.

“We urge you to support Croatia towards success in a fair and correct way,” said a federation statement published ahead of the match to be played in Bordeaux.

“Let’s say no to discrimination, racism and violence.”

The federation (HNS) said if fans are confronted by hooliganism they should not respond with violence but leave security forces to handle the trouble.

UEFA on Monday fined Croatia 100,000 euros ($113,000) for flares thrown on the pitch during the match against Czech Republic.

UEFA also ordered the HNS not to sell tickets to fans identified by it and the Croatian authorities as hooligans. But the sanction was deferred until the end of the tournament.

Croatian fans threw more than 10 flares on the pitch at the end of Friday’s match in Saint-Etienne causing a four-minute suspension. Croatia led 2-1 when the game was halted. But it gave away a penalty and the game ended 2-2.

Hardcore supporters of Croatian club Hajduk Split, suspected by the federation of throwing flares, threatened on Facebook to also disrupt the game against Spain.

Friday’s incident sparked outrage in the Balkan nation with President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic describing hooligans as “enemies of Croatia”.

The government said the identity of the perpetrators was known and they would be processed upon their return to Croatia.

HNS insisted that UEFA and French police had been warned that hooligans planned to disrupt the match.

Croatian football fans have a history of throwing flares at matches and chanting pro-Nazi slogans.

Ahead of Euro 2016, Croatian police sent a list of 326 potential troublemakers to France.

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