Saint-Étienne (France) (AFP) – Croatia coach Ante Cacic branded supporters who threw flares onto the pitch in Friday’s 2-2 draw with the Czech Republic at Euro 2016 as ‘sports terrorists’ with UEFA set to investigate the crowd trouble.
With Croatia 2-1 up, referee Mark Clattenberg briefly halted play when flares thrown from the Croatian fan block landed on the Saint-Etienne pitch, minutes before the 90 minutes were up.
When the match resumed, Croatia defender Domagoj Vida was penalised for handball and Tomas Necid drilled home the 94th-minute penalty to claim their first point in Group D.
European football’s governing body UEFA has already said they will launch an investigation.
“These people are sports terrorists, they are not fans,” fumed Cacic.
“95 percent of our supporters are ashamed in front of Europe, the players are very sad that, after playing a beautiful match, this happens.”
Croatia were stripped of one point in qualifying, forced to play two home matches behind closed doors and fined 100,000 euros ($112,000) by UEFA after a swastika was painted on the field before a match against Italy in June 2015 in Split.
They were also charged by UEFA for “field invasions by supporters” when a fan ran on the pitch to celebrate Luka Modric’s winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Turkey on Sunday.
A member of the ground staff at the Stade Geoffrey Guichard appeared to have been hit by a flare.
“I have called it ‘terrorism’ in the past, people weren’t happy with my comments, but now this has happened again,” added Cacic.
“These people are ruining everything we are doing, they probably have some support from somewhere.
“You saw there were loads of Croatia supporters who were really correct and fair, they were dancing with Turkish and Czech fans here in France.
“We are talking about a small group of fans, I hope we can identify and find them. These people are really scarey.”
Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic, who scored Croatia’s second goal, apologised for their fans behaviour.
“We all saw what happened and it’s not easy after a performance from us like that,” said the Barcelona midfielder.
“Most of our supporters are genuine in supporting this team and the Croatia Football Federation are fighting this small group of individuals.
“We have to say sorry to UEFA, the people at the match and all the people around the world who love football.
“We have to hope to play our next games in a better atmosphere.”
“In the next qualifiers we will have to play games in empty stadiums, because of these stupid supporters and other fans won’t be able to see their players play live.”
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