UEFA fines Croatia €80,000 for fans’ racist abuse of Mario Balotelli at Euro 2012

UEFA fined Croatia's football association €80,000 on Tuesday after fans racially abused Italy forward Mario Balotelli at a European Championship match.

The charges related to "the setting-off and throwing of fireworks, and the improper conduct of supporters (racist chants, racist symbols)," UEFA said in a statement.

FARE match monitors have reported to UEFA that 300 Croatia fans made monkey noises at Balotelli, who is black, during a 1-1 draw in Poznan last Thursday.

The fine is €20,000 less than the UEFA disciplinary panel ordered Denmark forward Nicklas Bendtner to pay one day earlier for revealing a sponsor's name on his underpants. Bendtner was fined €100,000 for his ambush marketing stunt to promote a gambling firm.

The sum is the maximum an individual can pay under UEFA disciplinary rules. National associations can be fined up to €1 million by UEFA.

UEFA rules make national bodies responsible for their fans' behaviour. Punishments range from warnings and a sliding scale of fines to points deductions and even expulsion from competitions.

First formal racism charge
Croatia's case was the first formal racism charge prosecuted by UEFA at Euro 2012 after lacking evidence in previous reported incidents.

UEFA President Michel Platini said he was "not happy with the Croatian people." Platini described the atmosphere at Euro 2012 stadiums as "99 per cent great. The people who come to the stadiums, they were nice, except some Croatians."

Platini urged Croatian political and football leaders in Zagreb last year to pass laws helping control problem fans, or face national and club teams being suspended from European competitions.

Four years ago, UEFA fined Croatia 20,000 Swiss francs (then €12,450) for its fans' neo-Nazi flags and chants during a Euro 2008 quarterfinals loss against Turkey in Vienna, Austria.

Also in 2008, FIFA fined the Croatia federation 30,000 Swiss francs (then €18,800) after fans directed racist chants at England forward Emile Heskey during a World Cup qualifier in Zagreb.

Croatia coach Slaven Bilic defended his country's image on Sunday after UEFA announced the racism charge: "We are not a racist country and that's why we are so angry with these couple of crazy supporters."

Last week, Russia's football association was fined €120,000 after fans attacked stadium stewards in Wroclaw after a Euro 2012 match.

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