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Turkey makes bid to host 2024 Euros

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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

UEFA targets Croatia after fireworks and crowd trouble vs. Czech Republic

Croatia will face action from UEFA after their Euro 2016 Group D game against Czech Republic in Saint-Etienne was halted when their fans threw fireworks and at least 10 flares onto the pitch.

Croatia were leading 2-1 with five minutes to go when flares were thrown onto the field. Their players appealed to fans for calm but a firecracker then went off very close to a steward who was clearing the area, causing him to jump out of the way.

Then, in the part of the stands where the fireworks appeared to come from, Croatia fans seemed to be fighting among themselves.

The game was stopped for around five minutes as referee Mark Clattenburg took the players to the centre of the pitch.

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A UEFA statement confirmed that "disciplinary proceedings will be opened tomorrow once UEFA has received the official reports of the match delegate and referee."

Croatia manage Ante Cacic was furious after the game and said "95 percent of Croatian supporters" were ashamed by the actions of a few.

"These are sports terrorists and they do exactly what they want -- it hurts so much," Cacic said. "These are not supporters, they are hooligans."

UEFA had already opened a disciplinary case against the Croatian Football Association after a fan ran onto the pitch following Luka Modric's goal in the 1-0 win against Turkey, with the case to be judged by their disciplinary group on July 21. 

During qualifying for Euro 2016, Croatia were ordered to close a section of their grounds for a game as punishment for fans' racist behaviour and crowd trouble -- including setting off fireworks and throwing missiles -- at a game in Italy. 

Croatia fans threw flares on the pitch in the 86th minute.
Croatia fans threw fireworks onto the pitch in Saint-Etienne.

Croatia were then docked a point in their qualifying campaign due to the racist behaviour of their fans in the return match against Italy, when a swastika was mown into the pitch. 

Croatia are in good position to advance to the knockout stage, but Ivan Rakitic told HTV that he thought it was a possibility that Croatia could be expelled before they get the chance.

"We have to see if we will play against Spain, maybe they will send us home after this," he said. 

Fellow Croatia goal scorer Ivan Perisic added: "Maybe it's best that we don't play at all than that these things keep happening."

When the game finally did restart, the Czechs forced a 2-2 draw with an 89th-minute penalty to snatch a point from a game they had barely been in. They hadn't even created a goal-scoring chance until Milan Skoda's 76th-minute header halved the deficit.

Rakitic told ZDF: "I am not sure whether it was a penalty. But if we can't behave on the stands, we might not have deserved it on the pitch."

Later in the day, Turkey fans lit a few flares and threw some firecrackers onto the field after the team's 3-0 loss to Spain. Stewards took the flares away from the fans as they chanted, despite the loss that leaves their team with faint chances of advancing to the next round.

Earlier this week, Russia were fined €150,000 and handed a suspended disqualification from Euro 2016 over crowd disturbances at their game against England.

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