Ce­ferin warns Croa­tia on ‘dras­tic sanc­tions’

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

UEFA pres­i­dent Alek­sander Ce­ferin yes­ter­day warned Croa­tia it risked dras­tic sanc­tions for hooli­gan­ism which he la­belled a key prob­lem.

“Un­for­tu­nately, Croa­t­ian foot­ball is not known only by ex­cel­lent play­ers but also by cer­tain prob­lems that need to be solved,” Ce­ferin told re­porters in Zagreb.

“One is the prob­lem with fans, in­ci­dents, which might re­sult in dras­tic sanc­tions,” he said. Ce­ferin, who took over the UEFA helm in Septem­ber, was speak­ing af­ter meet­ing head of the Croa­t­ian Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion (HNS) Da­vor Suker and Prime Min­is­ter An­drej Plenkovic.

“I warned both prime min­is­ter and Da­vor that ... there is a se­ri­ous pos­si­bil­ity for the tough­est sanc­tions,” he said with­out elab­o­rat­ing.

Suker ex­pressed hope that the state in­sti­tu­tions, no­tably the ju­di­ciary and the in­te­rior min­istry, would help the fed­er­a­tion in the fight against fans’ vi­o­lence. “It is im­por­tant that we get a fair and just law on hooli­gans,” Suker said.

Ce­ferin said that Croa­tia’s other prob­lem was its poor foot­ball in­fra­struc­ture. The coun­try has had a se­ries of FIFA and UEFA sanc­tions over un­ruly fans known for throw­ing flares at matches, chant­ing fas­cist slo­gans and dis­play­ing pro-Nazi sym­bols. Croa­tia were docked a point by UEFA af­ter their fans painted a swastika on the pitch in Split ahead of their June 2015 qual­i­fier with Italy.

Croa­tia’s Euro 2016 match against the Czech Repub­lic in France in June had to be sus­pended for a while over flare throw­ing. Hooli­gan­ism has in­creased in Croa­tia over the past four years since Suker, a for­mer in­ter­na­tional striker, took over as HNS pres­i­dent.

Some fans be­lieve Suker and the fed­er­a­tion are too closely linked with con­tro­ver­sial for­mer Di­namo Zagreb boss Zdravko Mamic, a key fig­ure in Croa­t­ian foot­ball. The fans ac­cuse Mamic, in­dicted this year in a multi-mil­lion-euro cor­rup­tion case, of un­fairly prof­it­ing from foot­ball and have staged protests against the na­tional team in re­sponse. —AFP

ZAGREB: UEFA Pres­i­dent Alek­sander Ce­ferin ad­dresses a press con­fer­ence at the head­quar­ters of the Croa­t­ian Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion in Zagreb yes­ter­day. — AFP

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