'Extreme disappointment' for FA over UEFA fine

November 9, 2006

The Football Association have reacted with 'extreme disappointment' after being fined £4,222 by UEFA for improper conduct of England fans before last month's Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia.

The FA had mounted a forceful defence against the charge but were fined by UEFA's control and disciplinary body.

The Croatian FA have also been fined, in their case £21,113, for a 'serious lack of organisation' concerning the match in Zagreb.

Meanwhile Germany Under-21 striker Aaron Hunt has been banned for two matches for gross unsporting conduct after he was accused of making racist comments to England players in last month's under-21 international.

FA director of communications Adrian Bevington said: 'We are surprised and disappointed, both at the decision itself and the fact that a verdict was reached today, bearing in mind the weight of evidence that we provided to defend our position.

'The evidence we provided demonstrated clearly that England supporters were poorly treated at the stadium, and that extensive security and safety plans agreed with the Croatian authorities in advance for the handling of our fans were not implemented on the night. First-hand accounts provided by England fans formed a significant part of our submissions.

'The FA maintains that neither we nor our supporters were responsible for the incidents that occurred. We have not yet received written reasons for this decision. Once they have been received and reviewed we will give serious consideration to launching an appeal.'

In referring to the Hunt decision, Bevington said: 'We take the issue of racism very seriously and we welcome the fact that UEFA have decided to take action on this case.'

The Croatian FA were fined for a number of rules breaches including a serious lack of organisation, selling tickets on matchday without approval of the police, the English FA or UEFA, the throwing of missiles and the setting-off of Bengal lights.

All the parties can lodge an appeal within 72 hours.

The FA charge related to incidents inside and outside the Maksimir Stadium where Croatia beat England 2-0 in their Group E qualifier.

Croatian police detained 187 Croatian fans and 31 English supporters for incidents outside the ground while a further 25 England fans were arrested inside the stadium shortly after the match kicked off following a clash with stewards at one of the gates.

The FA conceded there was some involvement by ticketless England fans, but there was anger at the response of Croatian police to baton-charge supporters.

In the case of Hunt, the Werder Bremen striker was alleged to have abused Micah Richards and Anton Ferdinand during England's 2-0 win. Although Hunt - who is half English - denied making racist remarks he was charged by UEFA following a complaint by the Football Association.

UEFA recently gave Wisla Krakow defender Nikola Mijailovic a five-match ban after he was found guilty of making racist remarks to Blackburn striker Benni McCarthy.

In that case however, McCarthy's claims were corroborated by the referee whereas in Hunt's case no match official reported hearing any racist abuse.

For that reason, UEFA have brought the charge of gross unsporting conduct rather than one of making racist remarks.

Ferdinand claimed that he was called a 'monkey' by German players but refused to name the supposed culprits publicly, though television pictures show a heated exchange between the West Ham defender and Hunt during the match.