Euro 2016: Why did Croatian fans throw flares onto the pitch against the Czech Republic?
While the players put their hearts out on the field, some fans at Euro 2016 have been an absolute disgrace. The Croatian fans are the latest set of supporters to cause problems at the Euros. Croatia were comfortably leading the Czech Republic 2-1 when a section of the Croatian fans started throwing flares and firecrackers onto the pitch.
Referee Mark Clattenburg temporarily halted the play. Though the two teams played the full 90 minutes, this act by the Croatian fans certainly has got many people thinking. Why would someone cause a disruption and mar a game when their team is leading?
And with Russia already receiving warnings over troubles caused by the fans, this act by the Croats is very difficult to understand.
It looked like a mindless act by a section of the Croatian supporters, but in fact, it turns out that it was a planned protest against the Croatian Football Federation and in particular Zdravko Mamic, the former chief executive of Dinamo Zagreb. The Croatian Football Federation and Mamic have been accused of corruption several times and protests have been held by the Croatian football fans against them earlier.
The Croatian fans are entangled in a long battle with Mamic, who was arrested twice last year. He and his brother, Zoran, were arrested last July for avoiding tax payments regarding the transfer move of Luka Modic from Dinamo Zagreb to Tottenham in 2008 and also Dejan Lovren's move to Lyon in 2010.
The former Dinamo chief executive was again arrested last November and has been accused of pocketing Dinamo's money since 2008. Mamic resigned from the post of chief executive of Dinamo Zagreb in February but he still pulls some strings in the club and also in the Croatian Football Federation.
The fans, tired of the corruption within the Football Federation and also the match-fixing in their own domestic League, have decided to step up and stand against all this. The Croatian Football Team were fined before for the protests held by the supporters and can expect a similar punishment to be sanctioned for the problems caused at Saint Etienne.
The Croatian National Team now stand the risk of getting disqualified and Ivan Rakitic, who scored Croatia's second goal against the Czech Republic on Friday, had this to say about the incident.
The state of the Croatian Football is sad and the Croatian supporters have succeeded in bringing the situation to the attention of the world. The Croatian Football Federation will have to do some rebuilding within the federation and clean the corruption that exists in the domestic league in order to prevent further protests and disruptions by the supporters but surely the damage for the national team has been done in this competition.