By Chris Wright
The Croatian Football Federation (HNS) have apologised this morning after a swastika was marked on their pitch ahead of last night’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy at the Stadion Poljud in Split.
The Italian Football Federation lodged an official complaint with UEFA during the game, with groundsmen tending to the playing surface at half-time.
The match was being played behind closed doors after crowd violence marred the reverse fixture at the San Siro in November.
“This is sabotage and a felony,” said Tomislav Pacak, a spokesman for the HNS.
“We expect police to identify the perpetrators.
“This is a disgrace not just for the HNS but for the whole of Croatia.”
The offending image is a little clearer in this photo…
“As far as we have learned, the symbol was imprinted into the pitch between 24 and 48 hours before the match so that it could be visible during the game,” added Pacak.
“We apologise to all fans watching the game on television, to both teams and to our guests from Italy for the Nazi symbol.”
HNS president Davor Suker was equally appalled, confirming after the match (which ended 1-1) that his organisation are now looking into the incident.
“We have this problem, which is the fans do not respect the rules,” Suker said. “We will talk about it tomorrow. Am I angry? Yes.”