Dozens Arrested After Fans, Police Clash At Croatia Cup Semi-Finals

Officials claimed Thursday that more than 50 individuals were arrested and 17 police officers were hurt as football supporters battled with authorities following a match in Croatia’s coastal resort of Split.

The violence began late Wednesday, when Hajduk Split fans rushed the pitch after their team’s 0-1 loss to Dinamo Zagreb in the national cup semi-finals.

Members of Hajduk Split’s fanatical fan group, known as the Torcida, attempted to attack the visiting team and its supporters when they clashed with security at the stadium, according to a police statement.

After being pushed back into the stands, where fans ripped off their seats and threw them, along with flares, at the officers, violence spread to 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 hurt, largely by objects hurled at them, and three were taken to the hospital, one with critical injuries, according to the statement.

One police vehicle was also destroyed, and 54 individuals were arrested. Firefighters were dispatched to the area to put out multiple fires that had started in neighboring bins.

Officials, including Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, condemned the incident, saying 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.

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

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

According to authorities, 27,000 people attended the match, 1,000 of whom were Dinamo Zagreb fans.

Croatia is obsessed with football, with the national team finishing as World Cup runner-up in 2018.

The country, like numerous other Balkan nations, has long grappled with hooliganism at football events, with Dinamo Zagreb’s Bad Blue Boys and Hajduk Split’s Torcida among the worst offenders.

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