JUNE 13 2015 10:04h

HNS apologises after swastika appears on pitch during match with Italy

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After a large sign very much resembling swastika appeared to have been mowed into the turf before Italy-Croatia Euro 2016 qualifier at the Stadion Poljud in Split, spokesman for the Croatian Football Federation Tomislav Pacak told the press this was sabotage and a felony, adding that the HNS expected police to identify the perpetrators.

At first it was unclear whether the symbol was mowed into the pitch or painted on the grass, but it was clearly marked in the middle of the half Italy were attacking in the first period.

"This is a disgrace not just for the HNS but for the whole of Croatia.

"As far as we have learned, the symbol was imprinted into the pitch between 24 and 48 hours before the match so that it could be visible during the game," added Pacak.

"We apologise to all fans watching the game on television, to both teams and to our guests from Italy for the Nazi symbol."

"'This is sabotage and a felony, hence we expect police to identify the perpetrators and we have also notified UEFA." Pacak said

The match was being played behind closed doors as punishment for racist chanting and crowd trouble by Croatia fans, which temporarily halted the November match between the two sides at San Siro.

Both sides stayed on course to reach Euro 2016 after a pulsating 1-1 draw in their Group H qualifier played at the Poljud stadium.