Croatia Apologise to Italy after Swastika Incident in Split

Italy have made an official complaint to Uefa after a swastika was visible on the pitch during both nation’s 1-1 draw in a 2016 European Championship qualifier on Friday.

Antonio Candreva apot-kick canceled out Mario Mandzukic’s opener at the Stadion Poljud- home of Hadjuk Split. Gigi Buffon saved the Atletico Madrid striker’s penalty and the Azzuri had a goal chalked off for offside, though replay proved otherwise.

The swastika- a symbol attributed to the German Nazi Party in the 20th century- reportedly came about as a result of a slow-acting grass killing chemical poured on the pitch the night prior to the match.

The Italian FA immediately pointed it out to UEFA officials in the stadium and the Croatian FA, in an effort to redeem the situation immediately sent personnel on to the pitch to cover it up.

The Swastika as Pictured on the Pitch in Split. Image: AFP.
The Swastika as Pictured on the Pitch in Split. Image: AFP.

A spokesman for the Croatian Federation publicly apologised to Italy for the offensive symbol.

“What happened is shameful not just for Croatian football, but for the whole country,” said Tomislav Bacek told Italian news agency Ansa.

“We reported the incident to UEFA. We apologise to Italy and to everybody.”

Croatia played the game in Split behind closed door after a Uefa sanction following fans’ racist chanting in their previous game with Norway.

“It is a problem that we have. We are working to resolve it, but unfortunately another thing happened tonight,” Croatian FA President Davor Suker told reporters.

“Unfortunately, as players we are unable to do anything about this. We feel impotent in the situation,” Barcelona FC midfielder, Ivan Rakitic, who provided the pass for Mandzukic’s goal, said.

“It becomes difficult to play in these conditions. We have to focus on what’s going on during the game and target Euro 2016 qualification.”