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Thu Jun 21, 2012 6:13PM
A steward removes a banana off the pitch after it was thrown at Italian footballer Mario Balotelli (L) during Italy’s game against Croatia on Thursday, June 14.

A steward removes a banana off the pitch after it was thrown at Italian footballer Mario Balotelli (L) during Italy’s game against Croatia on Thursday, June 14.

The issue of racial abuse and uncivilized behavior by football fans has tarnished the image of the Euro 2012 sports event, which is being co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine. Croatia is facing a charge over the racist behavior of its fans after the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) opened fresh disciplinary proceedings against the country's football federation following a Euro 2012 match against Spain in the Polish city of Gdansk on Monday. A Wednesday statement by the UEFA cited the "improper conduct of supporters [of Croatia] (display of racist banners and symbols)" during the game. "UEFA has today opened disciplinary proceedings against the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) for the setting-off and throwing of fireworks, and the improper conduct of supporters (display of racist banners and symbols) at the EURO 2012 Group C match against Spain in Gdansk on Monday. "The disciplinary case also involves the improper conduct of the team (six Croatian players received a yellow card during the match)," the statement noted. The UEFA's disciplinary body will deal with Croatia’s new case next Sunday. Croatia was fined 80,000 euros ($101,000) on Monday after its supporters' racial abuse of Italian football star Mario Balotelli in the team's second match at the Euro 2012. Stadium monitors showed Croatian fans making monkey noises at Balotelli, who is black. Croatia’s football association was also fined 25,000 euros ($31,500) last week for its fans' behavior at an earlier match against Ireland. UEFA President Michel Platini said at a media briefing on Monday that the poor behavior of Croatian fans had soured an otherwise impressive Euro 2012 tournament. Croatia was eliminated from the Euro 2012 after losing the match against Spain 1-0 and finishing third in Group C. This comes as Rio Ferdinand, the Manchester United defender, has criticized UEFA for being too soft on racist offenders. The UEFA banned Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner for one competitive fixture and fined the player 100,000 euros for exposing sponsored underwear in Denmark's defeat to Portugal last Wednesday. "UEFA are you for real??? £80,000 fine for Bendtner for underwear advertising.... all of the racism fines together don't even add up to that?!” Ferdinand wrote on Twitter. Critics of the decision pointed out that the UEFA had taken more draconian action against Bendtner than they had over several racist incidents observed during the Euro 2012 games. Meanwhile, members of the Dutch squad say their black players were subjected to monkey chants during a Euro 2012 open training session in Krakow, Poland. The Dutch football association, however, opted not to lodge an official complaint with the UEFA. In addition, around 300 Spanish fans made constant monkey chants at Balotelli during the 1-1 draw with Spain on June 10. Furthermore, Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie says he was abused by Russian fans during the match in Wroclaw, Poland, last Friday. Retired English footballer Sol Campbell had earlier advised England’s fans not to travel to Ukraine or ‘they could go back home in a coffin.’ Many English fans as a result decided not to set off to Ukraine. Family members of two black English players also chose not to travel to the competition for fear of being subjected to racial abuse. Meanwhile, Mesut Ozil, the German soccer player of Turkish descent, has registered a complaint against the people who posted racist remarks on the social network Twitter. MP/HJL/IS
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