Ceferin warns Croatia on ‘drastic sanctions’
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