Croatian police are protecting Slovak tourists

CROATIA, traditionally one of Slovaks’ favourite seaside holiday resorts, has reinforced police patrols in areas with a high density of Slovak holidaymakers. The measure was taken to prevent any incidents in response to the Slovak police action against overzealous Hajduk Split football fans before the UEFA Cup third qualifying round in Žilina, Slovakia on July 30.

CROATIA, traditionally one of Slovaks’ favourite seaside holiday resorts, has reinforced police patrols in areas with a high density of Slovak holidaymakers. The measure was taken to prevent any incidents in response to the Slovak police action against overzealous Hajduk Split football fans before the UEFA Cup third qualifying round in Žilina, Slovakia on July 30.

Miroslav Lajčák, the Slovak Foreign Affairs Minister, asked his Croatian counterpart Gordan Jandrokovic to do everything possible to ensure a problem-free holiday stay for Slovak tourists, said the spokesperson for the Slovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Peter Stano, as reported by the SITA newswire.

“In the context of the latest events linked with the incident involving Croatian football fans in the Slovak Republic we emphasize that police patrols have been reinforced in places where Slovak holidaymakers are staying. We believe there will be no more provocations,” reads the statement issued by the Croatian government after the phone call between the two ministers.

The Hajduk Split fan club, also known as Torcida, also issued a statement on its website calling on all Hajduk fans to be moderate in their behaviour towards Slovak tourists in Croatia. They claim the citizens of Žilina were very friendly and sympathetic and many of the Hajduk fans actually escaped from the hands of the police thanks to Žilina citizens who helped them to hide in their homes.

“The only ones to be blamed for all the events are the Stalinist police units with whom the ordinary Slovaks have nothing in common, just like us with the criminals from our police,” Torcida wrote in the statement, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Jandrokovic had already called Lajčák a day after the incident, on July 31, to apologise for the behaviour of the Hajduk Split fans in Žilina who –according to the fan club – had nothing to do “with the discriminating and racist action of the Slovak police and the match organizer”, TASR wrote.

The Croats caused injuries to 52 police officers 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 Jankovič, the police detained 230 fans of the Hajduk club, including three Austrians, five Slovenians and one Belgian national as well as the Croats. The disturbances took place before the UEFA Europa League third preliminary-round match between home team MŠK Žilina and Hajduk. The Croat fans who had been banned from attending the match by UEFA, were involved in skirmishes in the centre of the town, threatening local people and attacking police officers, before smashing everything they could get their hands on en-route to the football stadium, the police vice-president said.

The MŠK Žilina fan club has also issued a statement in which they condemned the intervention of the Slovak police against Hajduk Split fans.

“The intervention of the police in Žilina against the Hajduk fans shows that the brutality of the Slovak police intensifies against the fans of any local or foreign football club who visit a match on the challenger’s soil,” the statement reads, as published by SITA. The MŠK fans also claimed in their statement that the power, aggressiveness and violence used by the police during the intervention were inappropriate. They also appealed to the Hajduk fans to not link the behaviour of the Slovak police with the fans of MŠK Žilina when they come to Split to cheer for their team.

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