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By ESPN Staff

FA expected to contest UEFA conduct charge

The Football Association will on Thursday forcefully contest a UEFA charge of improper conduct by England fans before last month's Euro 2008 qualifier in Zagreb.

UEFA's control and disciplinary body will deal with the charge at a hearing in Nyon, Switzerland.

The FA had initially wanted to send representatives to a personal hearing but were advised that would only be acceptable for an appeal.

An FA spokesman said: 'The FA have submitted an extensive response to the charge including statements from our officials, observers and supporters and believe we have a very strong case.'

If found guilty, the FA are likely to be fined.

The Croatian FA will also be dealt with on several charges relating to breaches of security and fan behaviour before and during the match on October 11.

The charges relate to incidents inside and outside the Maksimir Stadium where Croatia beat England 2-0 in their Group E qualifier.

Croatian police detained 187 Croatian fans and 31 English supporters were held for incidents away from the ground while a further 25 England fans were arrested inside the stadium shortly after the match kicked off following a clash with stewards at one of the gates.

The FA have conceded there was some involvement by ticketless England fans, but there was anger at the response of Croatian police to baton-charge supporters.

After the match, FA communications director Adrian Bevington said: 'The turnstiles were unexpectedly closed on two occasions during the build-up to the game, which created serious congestion. Additionally, despite our advice, the pre-entry check points were too close to the turnstiles.

'As a result, when the gates were re-opened, there was a surge forward by several hundred unofficially-ticketed England supporters towards the turnstiles. This caused the officially-ticketed fans to be forced towards the police cordon.

'The reaction of the police was to baton-charge many of those fans, leading to a number of well-behaved supporters being injured.

'We then had a situation where around 1,000 unofficially-ticketed fans were placed in the England section of the stadium. This was despite our continued requests during the build-up to the match that at no time should this happen.'

The Croatian FA have also been charged after fans were involved in scuffles and let off fireworks, and for selling match tickets on the day of the game without seeking the approval of the English FA first.

It is the first time they have been charged with breaches of security and administrative regulations by UEFA, so it is likely the Croatian FA will also receive a fine.