'Sports terrorists' bring new chaos to Euro 2016

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Saint-Étienne (France), June 18: Croatian fans who hurled flares on the pitch to halt their country's Euro 2016 match against Czech Republic were branded "sports terrorists" as the showcase tournament suffered new troubles.

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UEFA said an investigation would be opened and even the country's president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic slammed the violent fans as "enemies of Croatia."

'Sports terrorists' bring new chaos to Euro 2016

Less than a week after Russian fans tried to attack England rivals inside the Marseille stadium, the European Championship finals suffered a double blow. After the incidents flares and terrace fighting at the Croatia-Czech Republic game, Turkish fans lit flares and threw firecrackers on the pitch at Nice after their side lost to Spain.

Meanwhile, the Russian government maintained its offensive over the treatment of its fans in France. President Vladimir Putin said, "I truly don't understand how 200 of our fans could beat up several thousand English."

(Euro 2016: Croatia coach slams 'sports terrorists' after 2-2 draw with Czech Republic)

But 20 Russians detained near Marseille were to be expelled on Saturday. UEFA threatened Russia with expulsion from the tournament if their fans caused more stadium trouble at the tournament.

Europe's governing body will now be under pressure to take a tough line on Croatia, which was a repeat offender during Euro qualifying.

At least 10 flares thrown from among Croatian supporters in the Saint Etienne stadium landed on the pitch in the 86th minute. One steward appeared to be hit.

Enemies

Croatia were leading 2-1 when English referee Mark Clattenburg halted proceedings. Captain Darijo Srna ran to the Croatia corner to appeal for calm, but punches were then thrown between fans and stewards cleared the section. When the game resumed, Czech Republic scored an equalising goal to finish 2-2.

A UEFA spokesman said an official inquiry would be launched on Saturday. Croatia already face punishment over a firework thrown on the pitch and a fan who got on to celebrate during the country's first Group D game against Turkey.

Croatia's fans have built up a track record of trouble in recent years. They drew a Nazi swastika symbol on a pitch before a Euro qualifier against Italy last year.

AFP

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