“Croatia were punished by UEFA after a swastika symbol was marked on their pitch before a Euro 2016 qualified against Italy in 2015”
It will be an eery atmosphere for the Three Lions to play in tonight, with no supporters allowed in the Stadion HNK Rijeka.
The hosts – who knocked Gareth Southgate’s men out of the 2018 World Cup in a dramatic semi-final in Russia – have been punished by UEFA after a swastika symbol was marked on their pitch before a Euro 2016 qualified against Italy in 2015.
And because of that indefensible act, they were told their next two home international matches sanctioned by UEFA would have to be played behind closed doors.
They were also fined €10,000 and deducted a point in their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.
Tonight is the second match of their ban, with the first coming in a 3-0 win over Bulgaria back in October 2015.
The symbol became visible on the pitch during their clash with Italy in 2015 after a chemical agent was put on the grass at Split’s Polijud stadium days before the June 12 fixture.
That match, too, was forced to be played behind closed doors after Croatia had been handed a one-match ban for racist chants by their fans in a 5-1 home victory against Norway three months prior to the swastika incident.
Croatian Football Federation spokesman Tomislav Pacak apologised for the sickening symbol displayed on the turf around the time of the scandal.
“This is sabotage and a felony,” he said.
“We expect police to identify the perpetrators.
“This is a disgrace not just for the HNS but for the whole of Croatia.”
Tonight; Mason Mount, Jadon Sancho, James Maddison and Lewis Dunk could make their England debuts in the unfamiliar setting of an empty stadium.