Croatia press outraged over Euro flare throwing


At least 10 flares were lobbed from the Croatian corner of the Saint-Etienne stadium in the 86th minute of Croatia's 2-2 draw with Czech Republic on Friday.

"Ashamed Croatia!" read the front-page headline of the largest circulation Vecernji list daily. It was accompanied with a large photo of Croatian players on the pitch covered with smoking flares appealing for calm from fans.

Croatia were leading 2-1 when referee Mark Clattenburg briefly halted play to allow the flares to be cleared.

When the match resumed Tomas Necid's penalty four minutes into stoppage time helped secure a draw for the Czechs.

"Croatian hooligans interrupted the match and helped the Czechs to equalise," the paper lamented over what it labelled "Euro 2016's saddest moment."

The Sportske Novosti daily said that hooligans within the Croatian fans had threatened to disrupt the match.

"Shameful attack on our squad -- savages carried out their threats," it said.

The Croatian football federation official in charge of security, Miroslav Markovic, said the federation had a "tip" there would be incidents in the 85th minute of the match, state-run HINA news agency reported.

The federation was to hold a press conference over the incident later Saturday.

However, the influential Jutarnji list paper criticised French security at the stadium for failing to prevent the flares being brought in by fans.
Croatia coach Ante Cacic branded the fans who threw the flares "sports terrorists" the country's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic labelled them "enemies of Croatia."

Croatia football fans have a history flare-throwing incidents and the chanting of pro-Nazi slogans.

Ahead of Euro 2016, Croatian police sent their French counterparts a list of 326 potential troublemakers.

Hardcore Croatian fans are linked with the country's two top clubs -- Dinamo Zagreb and Hajduk Split.

Hooliganism has increased over the past four years since former Croatian international Davor Suker took over the reins of the federation.

Some fans believe Suker and the federation are too closely linked with controversial former Dinamo Zagreb boss Zdravko Mamic, a key figure in Croatian football.

Some accuse Mamic of abusing the game in Croatia for his own gains and they protest against the national team in response.