Only a few months after meeting in the semi-final of the 2018 World Cup, England travel to Croatia this evening for round two of the UEFA Nations League. You may be left asking however, why is Croatia vs England being played behind closed doors?
In the HNK Rijeka Stadion, Rujevica. Deserted... pic.twitter.com/dLuQ1rCrxZ
— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) October 12, 2018
Enjoying a successful World Cup by their own standards, Gareth Southgate's England came unstuck against Croatia in the semi-final of that tournament.
Having overcome Colombia and Sweden in the previous rounds, England, after taking an early lead through Kieran Trippier, eventually went down 2-1 to the defeated finalists.
Taking on France after overcoming England, Croatia found the challenge of Didier Deschamps' side too great; losing 4-2 in a surprisingly high-scoring final.
Why is Croatia vs England being played behind closed doors?
The reason for tonight's game between Croatia vs England being played behind closed doors goes all the way back to an incident in 2015.
Hosting Italy in a Euro 2016 qualifying fixture, it was found that a swastika had been marked onto the pitch.
Understood to be a protest against the nation's own football federation, the Croatian Football Federation subsequently described the incident as an example of "sabotage."
Causing UEFA to rule that Croatia would have to play two games behind closed doors, the Croatian FF were also fined €100,000 and docked one point from their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.
Tonight's game vs England will be the second game of the two-game ban issued to Croatia. In October 2015, the first of these games behind closed doors was played against Bulgaria.
Incredibly, the lengthy wait for tonight's second game behind closed doors is down to the fact that Croatia have not since played any UEFA-sanctioned game at home.
With Spain the next team to play in Croatia, the ban will have reached its conclusion.
So, if anyone asks you why is Croatia vs England being played behind closed doors? You know the reason.