Football: Away fans barred from attending Croatia v Greece World Cup play-off

Animosity between Croatian and Greek fans is fuelled by friendly ties between hardcore Greek fans and those coming from Croatia's bitter Balkan rivals Serbia.
Animosity between Croatian and Greek fans is fuelled by friendly ties between hardcore Greek fans and those coming from Croatia's bitter Balkan rivals Serbia.PHOTO: REUTERS

(REUTERS) - No away fans will be allowed to attend either leg of Croatia's World Cup play-off against Greece due to concerns over crowd trouble, the Croatian Football Association (HNS) said on its website (www.hns-cfr.hr) on Thursday (Oct 26).

"The leaderships of the HNS and the Greek Football Association have agreed in Athens today that there will be no away fans section in either of the two legs of the World Cup play-off tie between the two teams," the HNS said.

"Having taken into consideration the risk factors and the security assessments, both football associations have made a joint decision not to sell any tickets to the away fans in either match.

"Fifa, Uefa and other governing bodies have been notified of the decision."

The first leg will be played in Dinamo Zagreb's Maksimir stadium on Nov 12, with the return fixture at the Georgios Karaiskakis stadium in Athens three days later.

A Euro 2012 qualifier between the two teams in 2011 was marred by serious crowd trouble in Athens, when masked Greek fans hurled flares at visiting Croatia supporters, who in turn ripped seats and threw them at riot police.

In 2010, Dinamo Zagreb fans stoned a coach carrying away PAOK Salonika supporters and set it ablaze ahead of the Europa League match between the Croatian side and their Greek rivals.

Croatian fans also caused a number of incidents in Euro 2016 qualifying, which forced their national team to play several fixtures behind closed doors, including home 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Iceland and Turkey.

Animosity between Croatian and Greek fans is fuelled by friendly ties between hardcore Greek fans and those coming from Croatia's bitter Balkan rivals Serbia, with the brethren groups often joining forces when either team plays the Croatians at club and international level.