CROATIA

The swastika which was evident on the pitch during Croatia’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy

Croatia have been docked one point in European Championship qualifying after a swastika symbol was seen on their pitch.

During the 1-1 draw with Italy in Group H – played behind closed doors in Split after a previous instance of racist chanting by supporters – the symbol appeared near one touchline and gradually became clearer.

The Croatian Football Federation reported the incident to UEFA and described it as an “act of sabotage”, with press officer Tomislav Pacak adding that : “A chemical agent was used on the field 24 to 48 hours before the kick-off, timed to be visible during the qualifying match.”

That was not enough to prevent the governing body imposing hefty sanctions for “racist behaviour”.

A UEFA statement read: “The UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body today decided to impose a deduction of one point on the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) for the qualifying competition of the 2014-16 UEFA European Football Championship.

“The HNS has also been ordered to play its next two home matches in UEFA competition behind closed doors and not to play any of its remaining qualifying games at the Stadion Poljud in Split. In addition, the HNS has been fined 100,000 euros (£70,000).”

The HNS will have three days to appeal against the judgement upon receipt of UEFA’s full reasoned decision.

The one-point deduction cuts Croatia’s lead over Italy at the top of the group to one point, leaving them on 13.

They have only one remaining home qualifier, against Bulgaria on October 10.