Uefa has acted to stamp out racism at the European Championship for the first time after opening disciplinary proceedings against Croatia over the alleged monkey-chanting directed at the Italian striker Mario Balotelli.
European football’s governing body announced that it was taking action against the Croatian Football Federation over the alleged racist behaviour of fans during the country’s Group C 1-1 draw against Italy on Thursday.
It was unclear on Saturday afternoon whether the proceedings were also intended to deal with claims a banana was thrown on to the field during the game in Poznan or if that would be handled separately.
Uefa said in a statement: “Uefa has opened disciplinary proceedings against the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) for the setting-off and throwing of fireworks, and the improper conduct of supporters (racist chants, racist symbols) at the Uefa Euro 2012 Group C match against Italy in Poznan on Thursday. The Uefa Control and Disciplinary Body will deal with the case on 19 June.”
It is understood Uefa is also still investigating allegations the Manchester City striker, 21, was subjected to monkey chants in Italy’s opening match against Spain on Sunday. The Italian Football Federation decided against making an official complaint against that or Thursday’s alleged repeat episode because none of their delegation had witnessed it at the time.
The HNS issued a statement condemning the “deviant” fans who had shamed their country but urged UEFA to spare them any further sanctions.
“[The] Croatian Football Federation distances itself from all deviant behaviour of the part of the fans during the final tournament of UEFA Euro 2012 and strongly condemns it,” they said.
“[The] Croatian Football Federation, its national team players and members of the technical staff support all UEFA activities aimed at identifying individuals whose behaviour damages the reputation of the competition, no matter which country they come from. [The] Croatian Football Federation appeals to UEFA not to punish the Croatian national team, which is for number of years at the top of the world football because of its performances and behaviour, both on and off the field of play, and not to associate it with the part of the fans who actually are not supporters, but hooligans which should be isolated from all sports events.
“Also at this championship, Croatia showed [what] great, cultural and loyal fans it has – fans who love their national team, respect all other national teams and support their country in the spirit of sports and fair play.”
As well as incidents surrounding Balotelli, Uefa has been looking into claims Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie was subjected to monkey chants during his side’s Group A opener against Russia last Friday.