SLOVAKIA has banished 219 Croatian nationals, fans of the Hajduk football club from Split, after they attacked Slovak police before the July 30 European UEFA league football match between their team and the Slovak football club MSK Žilina. The Croats were ordered to leave Slovakia within two days and they have been banned from entering the country as well as all other EU member states for five years, the SITA newswire reported.
The Croats injured 52 police, who were trying to control the situation, by throwing large stones at them. The rioters were also breaking windows of shops and cars and destroying the property and equipment of cafes in the centre of Žilina. According to the police department’s vice president, Stanislav Jankovic, the police detained 230 fans of the Hajduk club, including three Austrians, five Slovenians and one Belgian national as well as the Croats.
“It was the biggest intervention in the history of the Slovak police as for the number of detained persons,” Jankovic said, as quoted by the SITA newswire. About 650 police officers took part in the operation. According to Jankovic, the police had to use all available forceful methods to control the rampaging fans but said their actions were appropriate and justified. The cost of the intercession was about €100,000, SITA reported.
There were about 500 Croatian fans, according to the Sme daily, who had arrived in Žilina to attend the match. But they were not allowed to enter the football stadium because supporters of the team had been banned by UEFA from entering any European football stadium for two consecutive matches. There were no clashes between the Croats and fans of the MSK Zilina club.
UEFA banned Hajduk fans from two matches outside Croatia because of their behaviour at some previous matches. But because the Hajduk fans are known to be really “devoted” to their team, they came hoping to get tickets in some way, for instance some fans tried to persuade several Zilina pensioners to buy tickets for them. Even though a few managed to get tickets, security personnel were checking people’s IDs at the stadium entrance and were allowing only Slovaks into the match. The Croatian fans then rampaged through downtown Žilina.
The match ended with a 1:1 draw.