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Watch: Dozens arrested after fans and police clash at Croatia Cup semi-finals

More than 50 people were arrested and at least three police officers hospitalised after football fans clashed with authorities following a match in Croatia’s coastal town of Split, officials said Thursday.

The violence kicked off late Wednesday when fans of Hajduk Split rushed the field following their team’s 0-1 loss to Dinamo Zagreb in the national cup semi-finals.

Members of Hajduk Split’s ultra fan base, known as the Torcida, were trying to attack the visiting team and its supporters when they clashed with security at the stadium, a police statement said.

After being pushed back into the stands, violence later spilled out in the streets surrounding the football stadium, where “large groups of people on several occasions attacked police throwing flares, bottles, stones and other objects at them”, the statement said.

At least three officers were hospitalised, the statement added, without elaborating on the nature of their injuries.

One police vehicle was also damaged and 51 people were arrested, while firefighters were called to the scene to extinguish several blazes started in nearby dumpsters. 

Split’s mayor, Ivica Puljak, strongly condemned the incident, saying there was “no justification for the violence”.

“I am sorry for such unpleasant scenes and I hope we will never see them again in our city,” he wrote on Facebook.

Football is an obsession in Croatia, where the national team finished as the World Cup runner-up in 2018. 

Along with several nations across the Balkans, the country has long struggled with hooliganism at matches, with Dinamo Zagreb’s Bad Blue Boys and Hajduk Split’s Torcida among the worst offenders.

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