The ugly scenes in St-Etienne, with supporters turning on each other and more than a dozen flares ending up on the pitch while their team led 2-1, is a result of widespread alienation amid allegations of corruption within the federation
Why would a set of supporters try to stop a game while their team is winning? And why would they then start a fight among themselves?
They are natural questions to ask, but not easy to answer. This is the background, though. A lot of people in Croatia have become alienated from the national team in recent years and there are large movements that have given up on it completely.
They claim to have lost faith in the Croatian Football Federation and have accused it of widespread corruption. The federation’s vice-president, Zdravko Mamic, has been charged with embezzling money from Dinamo Zagreb when he was chief executive there. Damir Vrbanovic, the federation’s executive director, has also been charged as an accomplice in the same case.
Their aim may be to introduce more democracy and transparency in domestic football, a chance to start afresh, but their methods are all wrong. Other fans, who still support the team, started a scuffle with them in the stands after the flares were thrown. It is a sad indictment of the whole society that it has come to this.
Among the players and coaching staff on Friday night the sense was one of utter disillusionment. Croatia have four points after two games but no one was talking about the 2-2 draw against the Czech Republic. “Maybe it would be best if we don’t play at all,” said Ivan Perisic, who scored the opening goal for Croatia. “Maybe that would actually be better in case these things are going to happen every time we play.”
[Source: The Guardian]