Croatia slams Platini over letter to PM
The Croatian government slammed UEFA president Michel Platini on Monday over his "inappropriate" letter to Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic in which he urged the Balkan country to tackle hooliganism.
"We regard this form of address... as diplomatically inappropriate," read a letter to Platini signed by Croatia's interior and sports ministers.
Last month, Platini urged Croatia and Serbia to tackle hooliganism ahead of the high-risk March 22 World Cup qualifier, the first meeting between the two sides as independent nations since the bloody war in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
In his letter, Platini also called Milanovic and his Serbian counterpart Ivica Dacic to organise an urgent meeting with UEFA officials to discuss ways to uproot violence in football in the two former Yugoslav republics.
UEFA has fined both football federations several times for violence and racist behaviour shown by hardcore football fans.
Croatian officials said they have taken a series of measures to fight sports violence.
"The situation regarding safety in Croatia is no worse or more concerning than in the rest of Europe, also faced with racial discrimination issues (and) disorders often ending in the worst form of violence," the letter said.
UEFA official Grigoriy Surkis, who attended a Croatian Football Federation's assembly on Monday, warned that Croatia risked being excluded from international competition if sports violence was not rooted out.
"Croatia might find itself in isolation," Surkis said.
In a bid to avoid trouble between rival fans, Croatian and Serbian football federations decided to ban away supporters from attending the match.
The return is to be played on September 6 in Belgrade.
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