The Croatian Football Federation (HNS) has apologised for a swastika that appeared in the grass of Stadion Poljud during Croatia’s Euro 2016 qualifier with Italy.
The HNS labelled the Nazi symbol “obvious sabotage and a criminal act” and urged Croatian authorities to identify and punish those responsible.
During the opening 45 minutes of Friday’s match, it became apparent a swastika could be seen in Croatia’s half and, despite stadium staff’s best efforts at half-time, they were unable to remove the symbol.
The match in Split was played behind closed doors, after UEFA found Croatian fans guilty of racist chanting during a qualifier against Norway in March.
“We apologize to all the spectators, guests from Italy and the players of both teams’ because of Nazi symbols on the Poljud grass,” read a statement that was posted on the HNS’s website on Saturday.
The HNS went on to explain that the swastika had somehow been created in the days leading up to the match so that it would appear on game-day, while they confirmed they had informed UEFA.
“It is an obvious sabotage and criminal act that we condemn and call on the police and judicial authorities to find the culprit, who has not only disgraced Croatian football but also the country,” the HNS added.
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