Croatia fans who caused trouble during their team’s Euro 2016 match against the Czech Republic on Friday were “sports terrorists” and had no place in football stadiums, the Balkan nation’s coach Ante Cacic told a news conference.The supporters threw flares on to the pitch and fought among themselves in one section of the Stade Geoffroy Guichard, forcing the Group D game to be interrupted for several minutes while officials and players appealed for calm.”We were exposed to the terror of hooligans who have no place in sports arenas and I sincerely hope they will be identified and brought to justice,” said Cacic.”They are terrorists, sports terrorists, a specific group. Unfortunately, they still exist and even enjoy some kind of support at home.UEFA TO LAUNCH INVESTIGATIONUEFA said disciplinary proceedings would be opened on Saturday once they had received official reports from the match delegate and referee Mark Clattenburg.Cacic blamed the Croatian government for being too lenient with soccer-related offenders and not doing enough to crush hooliganism, which has been rife in the former Yugoslav republic over the last decade.”What hurts me is that the (Croatian) authorities will not deal with the problem,” he said.”The government has not done enough to eradicate them while the Croatian Football Association just doesn’t have the repressive tools to do it on its own.”This is just a handful of thugs, maybe a dozen, but many Croatian patriots, including the players who wear the shirt with so much pride and passion, are now ashamed in front of the whole of Europe.”advertisementPLAYERS APPEAL FOR PEACEA small section of Croatian supporters threw eight small flares on to the pitch and attacked a much larger group who had behaved impeccably up to the point when the violence broke out.Play was suspended as the Croatia players appealed for calm in the closing stages of the match when they were 2-1 ahead.The Czechs, who had pulled a goal back after falling 2-0 behind, grabbed a last-gasp equaliser and Cacic was in no doubt that the trouble had deprived his distracted team of victory.”We suffered a complete meltdown on the pitch because of a handful of irresponsible individuals and if the game had gone on for any longer, we might have lost it,” he said.The Croatians, who would have reached the last 16 with a match to spare with a win over the Czechs, play holders Spain in Bordeaux in their final Group D match on Tuesday.
Former Australia captain Mark Taylor on Monday stepped down from his post in Cricket Australia’s (CA) board of directors.Taylor’s resignation comes four days after board chairman David Peever stepped down, his position having become untenable in the wake of the Longstaff review, which was commissioned following the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal.The 54-year-old Taylor, the board’s longest-serving director, said he had been struggling to sleep soundly since the findings of the review were released a week ago.He was also fatigued after a tumultuous 18 months in Australian cricket, featuring an acrimonious pay dispute with players last year and the ball-tampering crisis in South Africa in March.”Over the last 13 years, but particularly the last 18 months, there’s been a lot in this role as a director of Cricket Australia. And it’s taken its toll on me,” Taylor told a news conference.”Over the last two weeks, even more so. And I’ve got to the stage where I don’t think I can give any more. I’ve lost the energy and I think it’s time for someone to fill my shoes.”Read – Stung by Longstaff report, Cricket Australia Chairman David Peever steps downTaylor had been touted as a possible successor for Peever by Australian cricket doyens but ruled himself out of the role last week, citing media commitments with local broadcaster Nine Network.He said he had struggled to repair relations between the players union and CA, poisoned during negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement and further strained by the Cape Town scandal, which led to suspensions for former captain Steve Smith and two other players.advertisement”I sit in sometimes an interesting position as a former player, board director and also a broadcaster,” Taylor said.”It can be a very tricky position and often very hard in trying to get the balance right in saying too much or saying not enough. Balancing those positions is tough and it takes it out of you.”LITANY OF CHANGESTaylor is the third member of the CA board to quit in the last six months, following Peever and former director Bob Every, who resigned in May over disagreements with Peever’s leadership.Also Read – Cricket Australia described as ‘arrogant’ and ‘controlling’ in commission reportThe board is currently chaired on an interim basis by Earl Eddings until CA decides on a permanent replacement.Taylor hoped he could be replaced by a former player and suggested there was a good opportunity for a woman to take his role on the male-dominated board.The resignation continues the litany of changes at the top of Australian cricket, with Kevin Roberts having replaced long-serving CEO James Sutherland last month, new captains appointed to the nationals teams and a new head coach in Justin Langer.The men’s national teams have yet to recover from the ball-tampering scandal, with the test side losing two of their last three matches and the one-day side 17 of their last 19 following their defeat to South Africa in Perth on Sunday.”I think it’s a great opportunity for a reset in Australian cricket, to make that change that everybody talks about,” Taylor added.”It’s a good opportunity, obviously with our men’s team struggling, for all of us to change for the good and start working out how we can actually work together for the good of Australian cricket.”(With inputs from Reuters)