PtG Article 24.08.2006

FIFA takes action against Croatian fans forming human swastika

A group of about 60 Croatian football fans positioned themselves to form a swastika and made nazi salutes during an international friendly between Croatia and Italy last week. The incident has been reported to FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee which has immediately opened proceedings against the Croatian Football Federation.

The incident was reported to FIFA and UEFA’s Disciplinary committees by the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network. FARE has photographic and video evidence of the action asks that the international football associations take immediate action.

“FIFA have recently toughened up their sanctions to deal with incidents like these. We hope they are ready to use them,” says Kurt Wachter from Austrian FARE partner, FairPlay-VIDC.

In a press release FIFA confirms that disciplinary proceedings have been opened against the Croatian Football Federation for possible violation of article 55 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code.

Article 55 stipulates that if spectators display banners bearing racist slogans at a match, FIFA will sanction the association or club supported by these spectators with a fine of at least 30,000 Swiss Francs. The club or association will also be forced to play its next official international match without spectators.

Individual spectators guilty of racist behaviour will be banned from the stadium for a period of two years.

Nazi-skins particular problem in Russia and Poland

The incident at the match in Livorno is not the only time football fans have been seen to form human swastikas. According to FARE, supporters of Lok Leipzig in Germany formed the symbol at a match last year, and an identical act has been observed by the FARE organisation Never Again at a league match in Poland.

“These kind of actions are highly organised and illustrate that football must continue to intensify its work against racism,” says Kurt Wachter.

Particularly in Eastern Europe the football scene has been infiltrated by the so-called Nazi-skins. According to a background analysis produced by the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center (ESISC) in the run-up to the football World Cup, incidents of racist and fascist violence committed by Nazi-skins have increased in recent years especially in Russia and Poland.

“In Poland, nowhere is more affected by racism and fascism than the football terraces. An anti-Semitic subculture totally dominates the stadia, rival gangs often calling each other “Jew” as an insult. Celtic crosses and Nazi insignia are commonplace,” states the ESISC report.

Nazi-skins are also present in a number of other European countries such as Germany, United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Italy and Romania.