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Croatia braced for UEFA report
Published : 16 Jun 2012 09:47:48Rss feed
Croatia are braced for more action from UEFA as they were plunged into arguably the European Championship's most serious racism row yet.
The Croatian Football Federation (HNS) were on Friday hit with a 25,000 euro (£20,298) fine after their fans set off and threw fireworks and missiles, and a supporter invaded the pitch, during Sunday's win over Republic of Ireland.
The HNS could face further action following a repeat against Italy on Thursday night, but that is nothing compared to what might await them if their fans are deemed to have racially abused Mario Balotelli.
UEFA confirmed on Friday they were "looking into" reports a photographer witnessed a steward retrieving a banana from the pitch during Croatia's clash with Italy.
The FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) network also announced their observers heard between 300 and 500 Croatia fans chanting monkey noises at Balotelli in the 1-1 Group C draw in Poznan.
UEFA confirmed they were aware of the racism claims, telling Press Association Sport: "We are looking into the reports."
If Thursday's purported banana-throwing incident is shown to be intended as an insult towards Balotelli, the fallout would be potentially the biggest yet at a tournament that has been dogged by allegations of racist abuse. UEFA are already probing allegations the Manchester City striker, 21, was subjected to monkey chants in Italy's opening match against Spain on Sunday.
Italy boss Cesare Prandelli, who on Monday rejected claims Balotelli was racially abused during that game, and on Friday insisted he was unaware the alleged banana-throwing incident.
The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) later confirmed the claims and accompanying photograph had been brought to their attention but added that no-one from their delegation witnessed the incident during the game.
A spokesman told Press Association Sport: "There's not any official complaint at the moment about that. It's not quite clear where this photograph was shot at the game and whether it [the banana] was launched against Mario Balotelli."