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Men's Football England to play Croatia behind closed doors

England’s first ever Uefa Nations League trip will be played behind closed doors as Croatia complete a stadium ban for having a swastika on their pitch.

The group draw for the new competition took place in Lausanne last week, with Gareth Southgate’s men pitted against Spain and Croatia in Group A4.

The Three Lions kick off with a home match in Spain on September 8 and then travel to Croatia on October 12 — a match Uefa has confirmed will be played behind closed doors.

Croatia were sanctioned by European football’s governing body after a swastika symbol became clear on the touchline in their Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy. 

That match was played behind closed doors in Split after a previous instance of racist chanting by supporters.

They served the first game of the ban against Bulgaria in October 2015, but there have not been any Uefa-run qualifiers since, meaning the Nations League match against England is the second match of their suspension.

The Croatian Football Federation reported the incident to Uefa at the time and described it as an “act of sabotage,” with press officer Tomislav Pacak adding: “A chemical agent was used on the field 24 to 48 hours before the kick-off, timed to be visible during the qualifying match.”

Uefa imposed hefty sanctions for the “racist behaviour” by docking Croatia a point in Euro 2016 qualification, handing down a €100,000  (£70,000) fine and ordering their next two home matches in Uefa competition to be played behind closed doors.


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