Croatia to receive penalty for 'human swastika'

Croatia's soccer federation expects to be punished by the sport's ruling bodies after a group of its fans formed a human swastika and gave Nazi salutes at Wednesday's friendly at Italy. "There is no doubt, FIFA and UEFA will take action," federation spokesman Zoran Cvrk said Friday. "It is terrible. Every form of racism, fascism or other, deserves the severest condemnation." About 200 supporters arranged themselves into the Nazi symbol about 30 minutes into Croatia's 2-0 win at Livorno's Armando Picchi stadium. Many also gave Nazi salutes. Police eventually moved in, forcing the fans to stop. Livorno is known as a politically left-wing town and the Croatia fans claim to have been incited by the jeering of their national anthem and waving of flags of the old communist Yugoslavia. Croatia fought a bloody war for independence from the old federation in 1991-95. Croatian police are trying to identify the offenders and the soccer federation has appealed to leaders of local fan clubs to distance themselves from any members involved by naming them. The national soccer boss, Vlatko Markovic, who labeled the act as "scandalous and despicable," said it was inevitable that FIFA and UEFA would punish the federation with a severe financial penalty. He added that the incident was also a serious blow to the country's bid to host the 2010 European Championship.