Why is England vs Croatia in the UEFA Nations League being played behind closed doors?


Stadion HNK Rijeka hosts Friday’s clash… but no fans will be allowed in

England visit Croatia on Friday night to take on the team that knocked them out the World Cup, but the Nations League clash will be played behind closed doors.

Both England and Croatia lost their opening matches in UEFA’s new competition to Spain – La Roja defeated England 2-1 days before thrashing the Croats 6-0 – and the two sides will be hoping to pick up their first three points in the Nations League.

Stadion HNK Rijeka hosts Friday’s clash

The match kicks off at 7:45pm on Friday, October 12, and you can listen to full commentary LIVE on talkSPORT.

While listening to the coverage you may think the stadium sounds eerily quiet, and that is because no fans are being allowed into the Stadion HNK Rijeka to watch the match.

But just why is the match being played behind closed doors? We explain below…

In Croatia’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy, played in June 2015, a swastika was marked on the pitch in Split. The Croatian football federation apologised after Italian complaints, though UEFA took a hard line against the hosts as the clash against Italy was itself being played behind closed doors as a punishment after supporters made racist chants in a match against Norway.

The swastika was caught on cameras during Croatia’s match against Italy

The swastika was caught on cameras during Croatia’s match against Italy

Croatia were ordered to play two home qualifiers behind closed doors, and were also deducted one point in their Euro 2016 qualifying group – though they still made it to the finals in France.

Friday’s clash against England is the second match of the punishment, with Croatia’s next home game, against Spain in November, being open to supporters.

The reason the second behind closed doors match is being played so long after the first is that Croatia have not played a home fixture in a UEFA competition since then.

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