Monday, February 19, 2018
Sports

Troubles continue for Croatia

PARIS — Croatia fans have a habit of disrupting and delaying matches at the European Championship.

On Friday, they added another ugly chapter to that history during Croatia's 2-2 draw with the Czech Republic.

Firecrackers exploded on the field in Saint-Etienne and burning flares rained on the turf, spewing smoke across the stadium — just as they did at all three Croatia matches at Euro 2012. The referee, Mark Clattenburg, stopped the game briefly Friday. A steward reached to pick up one of the items thrown onto the field when it exploded, knocking him off his feet. There was no report if he was injured.

Exactly why it happened, which provoked clashes among Croatia fans themselves, was not immediately clear. UEFA said it will hold open disciplinary procedures against Croatia.

"Bravo Vatreni (Fiery) Croatia fans. And to you the Croatian team haters I have a message for you: You will pay for this!" Croatia President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic said on Facebook.

Croatia fans have long been linked to far-right incidents. Groups from outside Zagreb have also opposed the widely unpopular Croatia soccer federation, which is based in the capital city and led by Davor Suker, the former Real Madrid player who remains Croatia's top goal scorer of all time.

Friday's incidents occurred in a section of a stand segregated for Croatia fans, to the side of one goal from where fireworks were thrown.

UEFA has already imposed a fine on the federation for previous incidents. More punishments could be applied, too, possibly for Euro 2020 qualifying.

UEFA already deducted a point from Croatia in Euro 2016 qualifying when fans created a swastika image on the field before a home qualifying match in Split. It was unclear if the swastika was due to fans expressing far-right views or a more calculated attempt to embarrass and shame the federation by forcing UEFA to act.

Croatia has had a core of right-wing supporters who identify with the World War II-era Ustasha regime. In a notorious incident, veteran defender Josip Simunic was banned for 10 matches, including all of the 2014 World Cup, by FIFA after leading fans in chanting an Ustasha slogan after Croatia clinched its qualifying place.

Croatia is routinely forced to play in empty stadiums when hosting World Cup and European Championship qualifiers after far-right chants and songs are reported to FIFA and UEFA.

More on EURO CHAMPIONSHIP: At Nice, Alvaro Morata scored twice as defending champion Spain cruised to a 3-0 victory over Turkey to qualify for the knockout stage. Turkey faces a fine from UEFA after its fans used flares and a smoke bomb in the stands, and repeatedly threw firecrackers onto the field, after the final whistle. At Toulouse, Eder's late goal gave Italy a 1-0 win over Sweden and a spot in the round of 16.

COPA AMERICA: David Ospina made a flying kick save in a shootout, Christian Cueva sent Peru's final attempt over the crossbar and Colombia reached the semifinals for the first time since 2004 with a 4-2 win on penalty kicks after a scoreless tie at East Rutherford, N.J. Colombia plays Wednesday in Chicago against the tonight's Mexico-Chile winner. At Houston on Tuesday, the United States faces tonight's Argentina-Venezuela winner.

U.S. APPEAL: The U.S. Soccer Federation has appealed the red card given to midfielder Jermaine Jones and a yellow card to forward Bobby Wood, who are both suspended for Tuesday's Copa America semifinal. Jones was given the red Thursday in a quarterfinal win by Colombia referee Wilmar Roldan during a confrontation that also saw Ecuador wing Antonio Valencia sent off after a second yellow card for a harsh tackle on Alejandro Bedoya. U.S. players rushed to the scrum after Valencia's tackle, and Jones raised an arm at Arroyo.

Comments
LeBron James leads squad to All-Star victory

LeBron James leads squad to All-Star victory

LOS ANGELES — LeBron James picked a winner in the NBA All-Star Game.James scored 29 and hit the go-ahead layup with 34.5 seconds to play, winning his third All-Star Game MVP award while his hand-picked team rallied to win an uncommonly entertai...
Updated: 4 hours ago
History in sight, Aric Almirola’s heart broken at Daytona 500

History in sight, Aric Almirola’s heart broken at Daytona 500

DAYTONA BEACH — Early Sunday evening, Aric Almirola walked from the infield care center and back to the garage area at Daytona International Speedway. His day was done, and with it a dream, the biggest you can have. He was released when medical...
Updated: 4 hours ago
What were Rays thinking in ditching Odorizzi, Dickerson, adding Cron?

What were Rays thinking in ditching Odorizzi, Dickerson, adding Cron?

PORT CHARLOTTE – Rays officials insisted Sunday they made the best deals they could in a bad market, trading No. 2 starter Jake Odorizzi for an unheralded Class A shortstop prospect and DFA-ing 2017 All-Star Corey Dickerson in essentially a swa...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Bubba Wallace emotional after Daytona 500 runner-up finish

Bubba Wallace emotional after Daytona 500 runner-up finish

DAYTONA BEACH – No, Bubba Wallace did not win the 60th running of the Daytona 500.But you wouldn't have known that after seeing his emotions after he placed second – the highest finish ever by a black driver in the Great American Race.Wal...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Winter Olympics: First Russian fails drug test at Games

Winter Olympics: First Russian fails drug test at Games

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — A Russian has failed a preliminary doping test, the first athlete from the country to come under investigation for using a banned substance at the Games, putting in jeopardy Russia’s efforts to move past a vast, state-backe...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Monday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballWomen: Florida State at Duke6 p.m.ESPN2Miami at Notre Dame7 p.m.ESPN; 620-AMMaryland at Northwestern7 p.m.FS1Howard at N.C. Central7 p.m.ESPNUWomen: Georgia at Mississippi7 p.m.SECWomen: Syracuse at Pittsburgh7 p.m.Fox SunWomen...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Don’t like Rays moves? You’ve got company in Longo

Don’t like Rays moves? You’ve got company in Longo

Evan Longoria has said pretty much all the right things since the Rays traded him in December to the Giants.But the former franchise cornerstone felt strongly the Rays made the wrong move in designating for assignment Corey Dickerson and spoke out on...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Winter Olympics: U.S. freestyle skier Nick Goepper conquers his demons and ends up a medalist again

Winter Olympics: U.S. freestyle skier Nick Goepper conquers his demons and ends up a medalist again

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Nick Goepper met Jeret "Speedy" Peterson only once.The larger-than-life Olympic aerial skier left a powerful impression on Goepper, an Indiana kid on his way to his own whirling fame.So when it got bad four years ago, when ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Austin Dillon wins Daytona 500 after Aric Almirola wrecks late

Austin Dillon wins Daytona 500 after Aric Almirola wrecks late

DAYTONA BEACH – As Austin Dillon celebrated his Daytona 500 win Sunday, he couldn't help but remember the time he was standing there, in Victory Lane, 20 years ago this week.He was 7 then, and his index finger jutted into the air triumphantly t...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Shooting from the Lip

Shooting from the Lip

Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.Worst newsSaturday night could not have been fun for Rays fans. Their team traded solid pitcher Jake Odorizzi and essentially let go of 2017 All-Star Corey ...
Updated: 7 hours ago