FIFA opens investigation into racial abuse of England striker by Croatian fans

FIFA has opened an investigation into allegations that Croatia's fans racially abused England striker Emile Heskey during a World Cup qualifying match last week. 

World football's governing body said Wednesday that it has begun disciplinary proceedings after England's Football Association lodged an official complaint late Tuesday.

Racist chants were directed at Heskey at Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb after he was booked for a challenge on Croatia captain Niko Kovac during the second half of England's 4-1 victory on Sept. 10.

Heskey later branded the fans "ignorant people" and said he tried to ignore the chants. 

Steve Bruce, who manages Heskey at Wigan, said last week he was shocked by the abuse from what he called "morons."

"If you watched the game, you could hear monkey chants and all the rest of it, which I thought we'd seen the back of," Bruce said.

Croatia Football Federation spokesman Davor Gavran claimed the chants were "in fact very much isolated."

"They seemed rather an expression of frustration from fans at how the match is going on, than an attempt to insult someone," Gavran said. "We condemn those individual cases."

The Croatia federation was punished in June for fans' racism at the European Championship.

It was fined 20,000 Swiss francs (US$17,900, EUR 12,570) after European governing body UEFA decided Croatia's fans "were guilty of displaying a racist banner and showing racist conduct" towards Turkey fans during the teams' Euro 2008 quarterfinal. 

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Author`s name Anton Kulikov