The Croatian FA have apologised after a swastika was cut in to the pitch at the Poljud stadium for their 1-1 draw with Italy, reports Sky Sports.
Awaiting confirmation: Man United transfer target nearing €30m move away from Bundesliga; destination unknown
Arsenal hope to sign out-of-favour Manchester City star for £15m
Manchester United and Arsenal quoted €100m for high-profile transfer target and striking sensation
The symbol which has connotations with Nazi era Germany and far right groups was visible during the first half in Split, and groundsmen attempted to get rid of it at half time. Although they did manage to obscure the controversial pattern, it was still possible to be seen.
Croatian FA spokesman Tomislav Pacak has blamed the incident on “sabotage” and apologised profusely. He said: “We apologise to all fans watching the game on television, to both teams and to our guests from Italy for the Nazi symbol.
“As far as we have learned, the symbol was imprinted into the pitch between 24 and 48 hours before the match so that it could be visible during the game. This is sabotage and a felony, hence we expect police to identify the perpetrators and we have also notified UEFA.
“This is a disgrace not just for the HNS (Croatian FA) but for the whole of Croatia. Neither our coach nor players will comment.”
— Times Sport (@TimesSport) June 13, 2015
The match it self was an exciting affair, which ended up with the home side staying two points clear at the top of their Euro 2016 qualification group. Both goals were scored in the first half, with Barcelona star Ivan Rakitic setting up La Liga rival and Atletico Madrid ave Mario Mandzukic for the opener. However, the Azzurri hit back 25 minutes later with a penalty scored by Antonio Candreva after the earlier goalscorer had handballed in the box. Darijo Srna was sent off for Niko Kovac’s side in the latter stages.