UEFA looks into reports of Croatian racism
UEFA is looking into reports that Croatia fans threw a banana at
the pitch and racially abused Italy striker Mario Balotelli at the
UEFA said Friday it is seeking more information about the
incidents, which reportedly happened during the Italy-Croatia match
Thursday in Poznan.
An anti-discrimination group appointed by UEFA to work at Euro
2012 said it has ”categorical” accounts from two monitors that
around 300 people directed monkey chants at Balotelli, who is
”They are both categorical. It was not a boo or something that
could be misinterpreted,” Piara Powar, of Football Against Racism
in Europe (FARE), told The Associated Press.
Balotelli has now been the target of alleged abuse at both Italy
matches at Euro 2012.
UEFA is investigating claims by a Spanish fans’ group that some
Spain followers made monkey chants Balotelli during a Group C match
last Sunday in Gdansk. Balotelli started for Italy against Croatia,
and was replaced in the second half of the 1-1 draw.
”It was fairly consistent throughout the game,” Powar said of
the monkey noises. ”It was at its most intense as he was
substituted and left the field.”
UEFA asked FARE to provide monitors, who speak the language of
both nations, at each Euro 2012 match, and file reports within 24
hours detailing offensive chants, banners and behavior.
”Our Italian observer was very shocked by what was heard,”
Powar said. ”Self-policing worked with the Spanish fans and it
didn’t work with the Croatia fans.”
UEFA will also receive details of far-right flags and symbols
displayed by some Croatia followers, but not the banana incident in
the monitoring reports, Powar said.
Before the tournament, Balotelli said in an interview that he
would want to ”kill” anyone who threw a banana at him. He also
threatened to walk off the pitch if he was racially abused.
UEFA rules make national associations responsible for their
fans’ behavior. Punishments range from warnings and a sliding scale
of fines to points deductions and even expulsion from Euro
Also Friday, the Croatia FA was fined ?25,000 ($31,500) for its
fans’ behavior at an earlier match against Ireland. UEFA said the
sanction was imposed for ”the setting off and throwing of
fireworks and missiles, and a pitch invasion by a supporter.” A
Croatia fan was tackled by stewards after trying to reach coach
Slaven Bilic following the 3-1 win last Sunday in Poznan.
After Croatia led 2-1, Ireland’s kickoff was delayed while smoke
from fireworks cleared at one end of the stadium packed with
Italy’s kickoff was also delayed by firework smoke on Thursday
after Croatia equalized in the 1-1 draw. A further UEFA charge is
Bilic said Friday it was ”unbelievable” to see so many fans in
”We were like the home side, it also lifted us and we’d like to
thank them for coming because we felt their presence,” Bilic said.
”Unfortunately, you will always find some individuals that cause
the problems with some fireworks or with some whistles.”
In a separate case Friday, the Italian FA lodged a complaint
with UEFA over Croatia fans whistling when Italy’s national anthem
was played before the match.
Associated Press writer Pan Pylas contributed to this report
Graham Dunbar can be reached at www.twitter.com/gdunbarap