West Ham manager Slaven Bilic claims those responsible for Croatian Swastika controversy are 'not racist'

New Hammers boss: 'They are doing it just for the sake of doing it'

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The Independent Football

West Ham United manager Slaven Bilić has become embroiled in controversy after claiming those responsible for painting a Swastika on a Croatian football pitch were 'not racist'.

The symbol, which has been associated with Nazi Germany since World War II, appeared before Croatia's Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy and resulted in the country being docked one point and being ordered to play two matches behind closed doors.

Uefa branded the occurrence as 'racist behaviour' while Davor Suker, the Croatian Football Federation (CFF) president and ex-Hammers striker, moved swiftly to condemn the vandalism.

 

Bilić insists the culprits were not racists, however, and instead suggested they were attention seekers looking to capitalise on the social media generation.

"I do not think that [those responsible] are racist," the former Croatia boss said.

"They are doing it just for the sake of doing it. Because, nowadays, with this media, if you do something you are on YouTube all over the world, and you find yourself a hero for that group of people.

"Some people wrote that [Croatia] are racist, but of course we are not racist. We are everything but racist. And you cannot say that Croatian fans are racist. I do not know how many of them are- maybe ten, or one hundred- but it is no more than that who are doing these things."

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The swastika became visible after the grass was sprayed with a chemical before a match with Italy

Croatian football’s ruling body have repeatedly come under fire from international anti-discrimination bodies for failing to respond to such incidents but Bilić refused to condemn the CFF.

"I cannot really blame the Croatian Football Association," he added. "I am a Croatian, and I am from Split, and I know that the FA is trying and that the government are trying to sort things out.

"They are trying, but it is impossible to stop somebody yelling when they are stood in the stand."

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