Euro 2012: Croatia charged with racism

A steward removes a flare from the pitch next to Croatia's Ognjen Vukojevic during their Group C...

A steward removes a flare from the pitch next to Croatia's Ognjen Vukojevic during their Group C Euro 2012 soccer match against Italy at the city stadium in Poznan June 14, 2012. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler

Mike Zeisberger, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:37 AM ET

KHARKIV, UKRAINE - UEFA finally has stopped fooling around when it comes to taking action against racism at Euro 2012.

European soccer’s governing body filed its first official charges of racism on Saturday, pursuing discipline against the Croatian soccer association after a handful of their fans allegedly made monkey chants at Italian forward Mario Balotelli.

Croatia is charged with “improper conduct” of supporters, including “racist chants, racist symbols” during a game in Poland onT Thursday, UEFA said in a statement.

For its part, the Croatian association is trying to wash its hands of any responsibility. It doesn’t sound as if anyone’s buying that stance though.

Issuing a statement of its own, the Croatian soccer association said it condemned the event and “distances itself from all deviant behaviour on the part of the fans,” adding that those involved are “not supporters, but hooligans who should be isolated from all sports events”

UEFA does have the right to expel teams from the tourney.

In a sad turn of events, UEFA is also considering a report that a banana was thrown toward the field from a section housing Croatia fans.

Prior to the tournament, the outspoken Bolatelli fired a warning at racists, vowing that he would “kill” them if they were to ever chuck a banana at him.

There also have been claims from a Spanish fans’ group claiming that some Spain supporters uttered monkey chants at Bolatelli during a Group C match last Sunday in Gdansk.

UEFA, meanwhile, is looking into accusations that Russian fans made monkey noises at Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie in Wroclaw.

Earlier in the tournament, Dutch captain Mark Van Bommel claims to have heard spectators at one of the team’s practice sessions make similar monkey noises at the team’s black players. UEFA did not pursue that particular incident very long.

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca

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