Croatian Football Federation apologizes for swastika pattern on pitch in Euro qualifier
The Croatian Football Federation has apologized after a swastika could be seen on the pitch during their European Championship qualifier against Italy in Split on Friday night.
The game at Poljud Stadium was played behind closed doors after Croatia were punished for racist chanting during their match with Norway in March, and the symbol could be clearly seen during the Group H encounter, which ended 1-1. Ground staff attempted to cover the symbol up during the half-time interval but were unable to do so and the Croatian Football Federation expressed its regret over the incident and confirmed the symbol had been emblazoned on the pitch up to 48 hours before match took place.
Croatian Football Federation press officer Tomislav Pacak said: "We apologize to all viewers, our guests from Italy and the players from both teams, for the Nazi symbol on the Poljud Stadium grass. Technically speaking, a chemical agent was used on the field 24 to 48 hours before the kick-off, timed to be visible during the qualifying match. During the half-time, we have tried to remedy the situation to the best of our abilities, given the short amount of time."
Pacak went on to reveal that UEFA had been notified about the incident and called on the police to bring those responsible to justice. He added: "This was an obvious act of sabotage and a criminal act. We condemn it and ask the police and judicial bodies to find the person(s) responsible for what is a shame not only for Croatian football, but the entire country. Once again, we express regret and condemn this act, and we apologise to all the viewers, guests and players from both teams."