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By ESPN Staff

FA ask FIFA to probe racist chants in Zagreb

LONDON, Sept 11 (Reuters) - The Football Association said it would complain to world governing body FIFA after England players were racially abused by Croatia fans during their 4-1 victory in a World Cup qualifier in Zagreb on Wednesday.

"We can confirm that we will be making a report to FIFA about the racist chanting aimed at Emile Heskey by some Croatia fans during the qualifier in Zagreb," an FA statement said on Thursday.

"It is unacceptable for anyone to be subjected to racial abuse and we will be asking FIFA to investigate this. The FA and the England team are determined to do all they can to eradicate racism from football and society."

Striker Heskey was subjected to monkey chants during England's impressive Group Six victory.

"You've got to let the people above deal with it," Heskey was quoted as saying in British newspapers. "They are ignorant people, you have to ignore it and enjoy your football."

Croatian FA spokesman Davor Gavran said it was an isolated incident caused by a small group of fans.

"The atmosphere at the stadium was fantastic, thanks to the supporters, and it would be unfair if one such incident marred the overall (positive) impression," state news agency Hina quoted Gavran as saying.

England's black players have endured racist abuse while playing in Europe before, with monkey chants being directed at players in a friendly in Spain four years ago.

Croatia's football federation was fined nearly €12,500 for the racist behaviour of fans at the team's Euro 2008 quarter-final against Turkey in June.

Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) urged the Croatian FA "to acknowledge there is a deeper problem" of racism in their country and step up their efforts to stamp it out.

"We have held meetings with UEFA and the Croatian authorities but we want to see more support from the authorities such as the judiciary and politicians to stamp out this problem," FARE coordinator Michael Fanizadeh said in Brussels.

"Sanctions can help but the Croatia FA must acknowledge there is a deep-rooted problem first of all if we are to be successful in combating racism."

Fanizadeh was speaking after the launch of a new anti-racism campaign on Thursday by FARE, European soccer's governing body UEFA and the European Commission, the EU's executive arm.

Under the title "Different Languages, One Goal", a 30-second television advertisement promoting anti-racism will be shown by broadcasters at halftime during all of UEFA's 125 Champions League matches.


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