Croatia face UEFA sanctions

PA Sport
UEFA is investigating after it was alleged that pockets of Croatia supporters racially abused Mario Balotelli

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UEFA is investigating after it was alleged that pockets of Croatia supporters racially abused Mario  …

UEFA has acted to stamp out racism at the European Championship for the first time after opening disciplinary proceedings against Croatia over the alleged abuse of Mario Balotelli.

European football's governing body announced they were taking action against the Croatian Football Federation over the racist behaviour of their fans during the country's 1-1 Group C draw against Italy on Thursday.

UEFA said in a statement: "UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) for the setting-off and throwing of fireworks, and the improper conduct of supporters (racist chants, racist symbols) at the UEFA Euro 2012 Group C match against Italy in Poznan on Thursday."

It continued: "The UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body will deal with the case on 19 June."

It was unclear on Saturday afternoon whether the proceedings were also intended to deal with claims a banana was thrown onto the field during the game in Poznan or if that would be handled separately.

UEFA acted after the FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) network announced their observers heard between 300 and 500 Croatia fans chanting monkey noises at Italy striker Balotelli in Tuesday's match. Reports a photographer witnessed a steward retrieving a banana from the pitch were also being looked into by UEFA.

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 had been probing allegations the Manchester City striker, 21, was subjected to monkey chants in Italy's opening match against Spain on Sunday. It was unclear on Saturday whether they were still looking into that.

Italy boss Cesare Prandelli, who on Monday rejected claims Balotelli was racially abused during that game, insisted on Friday he was unaware of Tuesday's alleged banana-throwing incident.

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) later confirmed the claims and accompanying photograph of a banana being retrieved had been brought to their attention but added that no-one from their delegation witnessed the incident during the game.

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