Euro 2016: Croatia vs Czech Republic halted as Croatian fans throw flares on the pitch.
For the most part of the encounter between Croatia and Czech Republic, it looked the Croats would be heading for a comfortable win. However, a goal from Milan Skoda and some off the field incidents took the momentum away from Croatia.
Towards the end of the game, Croatian fans threw flares towards one corner of the field. Several officials and stewards went to deal with the fire and one of them was hit in the face by a flare and this further intensified the situation.
As the situation got out of hand, the game was halted for around four minutes. Croatian players including captain Darijo Srna and Barcelona star Ivan Rakitic went to plead with the Croatian fans to let the game continue.
Referee Mark Clattenburg was clearly not happy with the incident and was seen walking towards the touchline to have a word with the Croatian manager.
Many fans from the stands from which the flares were thrown were removed during the halt. Croatia were leading the game 2-1 before the incident and were all set to seal their place in the next knockout stage. The halt in proceedings affected their momentum and when play resumed, they ended up conceding a penalty and had to settle for just one point.
UEFA will definitely look into this crowd disturbance and might take some action. Croatia have entered UEFA's bad book earlier. During the qualifying phase for Euro 2016, they were deducted one point after charges for racist behaviour in the match against Italy at home. In addition, the Croatian football federation was given a fine and they were forced to play their next two matches of UEFA competition behind closed doors.
Croatian fans throwing flares on the pitch is not a new incident. Before this, they threw flares in a 1-1 draw during the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying phase. During Euro 2012, once again against the Italians, they threw flares and lit flares against Spain during the same tournament.
Ivan Rakitic had this to say about the incident.