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Croatian FA calls for leniency on team
06:53 AEST Sun Jun 17 2012

Croatian football chiefs on Saturday pleaded with UEFA not to punish the national side for the actions of a minority, as it faced possible hefty sanctions for fans' racist chanting against Italy's Mario Balotelli.

"The Croatian Football Federation appeals to UEFA not to punish the Croatian national team... and not to associate it with a section of fans who actually are not supporters but hooligans who should be isolated from all sports events," it said.

The organisation made the appeal after UEFA announced that it was taking action against the federation following complaints from a racism monitoring body that Croatia fans taunted Balotelli during Thursday's Group C match in Poznan, Poland.

An AFP photographer, who also heard the chants, saw a steward pick up a banana from the pitch during the match, which ended 1-1.

UEFA's Disciplinary and Control Body is to announce its decision on Tuesday, with a stiff penalty possible after it previously threatened Russia with a six-point deduction from its next Euro 2016 qualifying campaign in the event of further fan violence.

Croatia football chiefs said in the statement, which was posted on the federation's website, that Slaven Bilic's side had been at the top of world football "because of its performances and behaviour both on and off the field of play".

The federation "distances itself from all deviant behaviour of the part of the fans during the final tournament of UEFA Euro 2012 and strongly condemns it".

Officials, players and backroom staff supported all efforts to stamp out any behaviour that tarnishes the game's reputation.

During Euro 2012, Croatia had shown it had "great, cultural and loyal fans... fans who love their national team, respect all other national teams and support their country in the spirit of sports and fair play".

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