KEIR RADNEDGE in DONETSK: A bad week for the image of Croat football grew steadily worse as the national team’s retreat from Euro 2012 was accompanied by confirmation of disciplinary action on the Euro 2012 and worldwide stages.

Last night Croatia lost their third and last match in Group C by 1-0 to Spain last night and were thus eliminated from the tournament.

Today world federation FIFA confirmed worldwide the suspensions of at least 15 players, two coaches and one club official in Croatia investigated over a match fixing scandal in July 2010. Then UEFA imposed an E80,000 fine for crowd-related incidents in the European Championship.

FIFA acted by confirming worldwide enactment of the life bans imposed on club coach Vinko Saka and players Mario Darmopil and Danijel Madaric by the Croat federation over top division match-fixing in the 2009-10 season.

Then UEFA punished the Croatian federation for the setting-off and throwing of fireworks, and the improper conduct of supporters (racist chants, racist symbols) at the Group C match against Italy in Poznan last Thursday.  The HNS has three days in which to lodge an appeal.

Initially UEFA had said it was investigating reports that a banana had been thrown on to the pitch during the match which ended in a 1-1 draw. The Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network, which works closely with UEFA at Euro 2012, had reported on Friday that its observers had reported “between 300 and 500 Croatian fans involved in racially abusing Italy striker Mario Balotelli.”

As for FIFA, the latest rubber-stamping of matchfix punishments has followed up an investigation into matches in the K-League and League Cup. The KFA had already announced life bans on Sang Hong Lee and Dong Hyun Kim, five-year bans on Jung Kyum Kim and Sung Kuk Choi and life bans – with the possibility of eventual reductions – for Eung Jin Kim, Sung Yo Hong, Byoung Kyu Park, Yeo San Yoon, Kyung Il Sung and Jung Ho Lee.

These cases follow the 45 domestic sanctions extended globally effect in February and April players and officials from Turkey and Finland.

Ralf Mutschke, the new security chief, said: “These cases prove once more that the threat of illegal betting and match fixing is not only confined to one part of the world. The integrity of sport, and especially football, is hugely at risk and FIFA is firmly determined to combat this threat and sanction those who do not play by FIFA’s regulations.”

Mutschke, from Germany, has succeded Australian Chris Eaton who has left FIFA to join the Qatar-based International Centre for Sport Security.

** UEFA has launched disciplinary proceedings against the German federation for “spectator-related incidents” in their 2-1 win over Denmark in Euro 2012’s Group B on Sunday in Lviv. The charges relate to the setting-off of fireworks and fans’ display of “inappropriate banners and symbols and inappropriate chanting.” The case will be considered on Saturday.

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