Euro 2016: Croatia arrests hooligans

Firefighters extinguish flares lobed onto the pitch during the Euro 2016 group D football match between Czech Republic and Croatia at the Geoffroy-Guichard stadium in Saint-Etienne on June 17, 2016.
Firefighters extinguish flares lobed onto the pitch during the Euro 2016 group D football match between Czech Republic and Croatia at the Geoffroy-Guichard stadium in Saint-Etienne on June 17, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

ZAGREB (AFP) - Police have arrested five people suspected of being among hooligans who threw flares during Croatia's Euro 2016 match against the Czech Republic in France, officials said Monday (June 27).

Four men, arrested in the Split region, are suspected of "causing disorder and attacking other fans at the stadium in Saint-Etienne on June 17," a prosecutors' statement said.

Another 28-year-old man was arrested in nearby Sibenik on suspicion of "endangering public order by using violence" during the match, a police statement said.

Media reported that the detained men, aged between 19 and 23, were identified on video recordings of the match.

At least one suspect was believed to be a hardcore supporter of the Hajduk Split supporters' group, Torcida, according to media.

The Croatian football federation suspected Torcida members of being behind the incident.

If found guilty the suspects face up to five years in prison for causing troubles at a sports event.

Interior Minister Vlaho Orepic said earlier a total of 32 people who took part in the incident were identified and most were from Split.

Croatian fans threw more than 10 flares on the pitch at the end of the match causing a four-minute suspension. Croatia led 2-1 when the game was halted. But it gave away a penalty and the game ended 2-2.

The incident sparked outrage in the Balkan nation while UEFA fined Croatia 100,000 euros (S$150,000).

Croatia's football federation had insisted that UEFA and French police had been warned that hooligans planned to disrupt the match.

Croatian football fans have a history of throwing flares at matches and chanting pro-Nazi slogans.

Ahead of Euro 2016, Croatian police sent a list of 326 potential troublemakers to France.

Croatia returned home Sunday after losing their last 16 clash against Portugal 1-0.