Zagreb (Croatia): Croatian football officials on Saturday apologised for a swastika visible on the pitch during their 1-1 draw with Italy in a Euro 2016 qualifier, dubbing the incident an “obvious act of sabotage” that was reported to the police. UEFA had ordered Friday’s match to be played behind closed doors, in a virtually empty stadium, as punishment for fan violence and racist incidents when Croatia played Norway earlier in the qualifying campaign.
A swastika symbol is seen on the pitch during the Euro 2016 qualifying match between Croatia and Italy at the Poljud Stadium. Pic/AFP
A swastika, however, was clearly seen on the pitch at the Poljud Stadium, the home of Croatian top flight side Hajduk Split. It was not clear if the Nazi symbol was mowed into the grass or painted, but ground crew struggled to cover it up during halftime. “We apologise to all viewers, our guests from Italy and the players from both teams, for the nazi symbol on the Poljud Stadium grass,” Croatian federation press officer Tomislav Pacak said in a statement. “We immediately notified UEFA of the incident.”