FIFA fines Croatia and Greece for racism

Supporters’ unruly behaviour at World Cup qualifying matches in October costs federations thousands of dollars.

Croatia were also fined for crowd disturbance at a World Cup qualifier in Scotland [Getty Images]

FIFA has warned and fined World Cup play-off teams Croatia and Greece for fans’ racist behaviour at qualifying matches last month.

World football’s governing body announced the sanctions on Saturday but did not order full or partial stadium closures for the play-off matches that begin next week.

FIFA fined the Croatia Football Federation 35,000 Swiss francs ($38,000) for incidents during its 2-1 loss against Belgium in Zagreb on October  11.

“Croatian supporters made far-right salutes which were used during World War II by the fascist Ustase movement,” fan monitoring group Fare reported to FIFA.

FIFA fined the Greek federation 30,000 Swiss francs ($32,500) following reports of far-right banners displayed when Greece beat Slovakia 1-0 in Athens on October 11.

In the play-offs, Croatia host Iceland in the second leg on November 19, and Greece host Romania in the first leg on Friday.

Monkey noises

In September, Ukraine were found guilty by FIFA of racist behaviour by fans at a qualifying match, but they have escaped a closed-stadium order when it hosts France on Friday in Kiev.

FIFA deferred the punishment while it considered Ukraine’s appeal after fans made monkey noises at the team’s Brazil-born player Edmar during a win against San Marino in September in Lviv.

The world football governing body also banned the Lviv stadium from hosting qualifying matches for the 2018 World Cup.

In other sanctions on Saturday, the Croatia federation was also fined 15,000 Swiss francs ($16,300) for “crowd disturbance among visiting spectators” during a World Cup qualifier in Scotland on October 15.

The Scottish FA, which was responsible for security at the match in Glasgow, was also fined 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,850).

Romania’s federation was fined 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,850) for crowd disturbances at a home qualifier in Bucharest against Estonia last month.

Stricter sanctions

FIFA approved stricter sanctions aganist racism in May, but FIFA president Sepp Blatter said last month that the world football governing body must introduce harsher punishments to tackle racism and discrimination.

Under new regulations approved by FIFA at its annual congress on May 31, clubs may be relegated or have points deducted in sterner punishments.

Serious or repeat offenses by a club or its fans could also lead to a team being banned from a tournament, such as the Champions League.

However, Blatter said the current threat of fines and playing matches behind closed doors, were not enough of a deterrent.

“What we shall do is be very tough – we need to eliminate teams from a competition or deduct points,” he said at the Football Association’s 150th year anniversary celebrations in England.

“Only by such decisions is it possible to go against racism and discrimination. If we don’t do that it will go on and go on.

“We have to stop it – we need the courage to do it.

“We can do something better to fight racism and discrimination. This is one of the villains we have today in our game but I’m sure, with the combined efforts of everybody we can go on, but it is only with harsh sanctions that racism and discrimination can be washed out of football.”

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies