Dozens arrested after fans and police clash at Croatia Cup semi-finals

The violence kicked off late Wednesday when fans of Hajduk Split rushed the field following their team's 0-1 loss to Dinamo Zagreb

More than 50 people were arrested and 17 police officers injured when football fans clashed with authorities after a match in Croatia’s coastal town of Split, officials said Thursday.

The violence kicked off late Wednesday when fans of Hajduk Split rushed the field following their team’s 0-1 loss to Dinamo Zagreb in the national cup semi-finals.

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Members of Hajduk Split’s ultra fan base, known as the Torcida, were trying to attack the visiting team and its supporters when they clashed with security at the stadium, a police statement said.

After being pushed back into the stands, where the fans were ripping off the seats and throwing them along with flares at the officers, violence later spilled in the streets surrounding the stadium.

“Large groups of people on several occasions attacked police throwing flares, bottles, stones and other objects at them”, the statement said.

Seventeen officers were injured, mostly by objects thrown at them, and three were hospitalised, one with serious injuries, the statement said.

One police vehicle was also damaged and 54 people were arrested, and firefighters were called to the scene to extinguish several blazes started in nearby dumpsters.

The violence was condemned by officials including Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, who said there was no “place for violence in sports”.

“We will continue to strongly resist such phenomena,” he said at the government’s weekly cabinet meeting.

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Split’s mayor, Ivica Puljak, regretted “such unpleasant scenes”.

“I hope we will never see them again in our city,” he wrote on Facebook.

The match was attended by 27,000 people, including 1,000 Dinamo Zagreb fans, according to police.

Football is an obsession in Croatia, where the national team finished as the World Cup runner-up in 2018.

Along with several nations across the Balkans, the country has long struggled with hooliganism at matches, with Dinamo Zagreb’s Bad Blue Boys and Hajduk Split’s Torcida among the worst offenders.

© Agence France-Presse

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