FIFA act against Croatia for Nazi salutes

August 18, 2006

ZAGREB, Aug 18 (Reuters) - FIFA have begun disciplinary proceedings against the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) following racist behaviour by Croatia fans, the world governing body said on Friday.

It said Croatian fans had formed a swastika and made the Nazi salute in the stands during a friendly against Italy in Livorno on Wednesday in which Croatia beat the World Cup winners 2-0.

Croatian soccer officials were not available for immediate comment but earlier on Friday they condemned the behaviour of Croat fans.

'I was really shocked and disappointed by the fans. They do not care about Croatia but only about themselves,' HNS President Vlatko Markovic told the Jutarnji List daily.

Fans of FC Rijeka, named Armada, confirmed they were behind the incident.

'The Nazi cross was our response to provocations by (Italian fans) who waved the Yugoslav flag and communist symbols,' one Armada fan told the Jutarnji List.

Chief HNS security official Zoran Cvrk fears the repercussions will hurt a joint bid by Croatia and Hungary to stage the 2012 European Championship.

'Each incident with fans is a shot in our bid to host the Euro 2012,' he told the Vecernji List daily.

'This incident deserves to be treated severely. There is no doubt that both FIFA and (European soccer body) UEFA will condemn it. We call on the fans to help us find the perpetrators so that police can ban them from the stadiums.'