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England Fa urge fans not to travel for Croatia clash on Friday with game being played behind closed doors

The FA have urged England fans not to travel to Croatia this week ahead of their Nations League clash in Rijeka on Friday night.

The match is to be played behind closed doors as Croatia serve the second part of a two-match ban for having a swastika daubed on the pitch before a game against Italy in a Euro 2016 qualifier.

Croatia played the first match of the stadium ban in October 2015, in a fixture with Bulgaria. But they have not had a home fixture in a UEFA competition since then.
And the FA issued a statement on Monday night asking fans to stay away due to safety issues.

It read: ‘The FA had been exploring all options to secure a number of tickets for our members to attend this match.

‘However, the FA takes the safety and security of its members extremely seriously and following consultations with the police and the UKFPU we agreed that it would be unsafe for fans to attend the fixture – either through The FA delegation of tickets or through other means.

‘For these reasons we strongly advise against any of our members travelling for the fixture.

‘We appreciate that those members who have already made their travel and/or accommodation plans will be naturally disappointed by this decision but we hope that you understand the reasons for doing so.’

But it has not been well received by England fans, with a number voicing their displeasure on the FA website.

Amber Edmondson wrote: ‘Don’t agree with this at all!

‘Our flights to Spain are from Croatia so advising not to travel to Croatia is ridiculous!

‘Obviously we all have a spare few £100 to cover such ridiculous punitive measures at no fault of our fans!’

England manager Gareth Southgate admitted last week he would have preferred to face Croatia in front of a hostile full house this week rather than behind closed doors.

It’ll be the first time I’ve ever been in a game like that. It will be a very different feel,’ said Southgate.

‘In some ways, I’d have liked our players to experience going there with the stadium bouncing and Croatia reminding us what happened in the summer. I could then tell them to go and deal with it, but we haven’t got that opportunity.

‘But I still think the lads will know they are playing for England. We have to apply ourselves in the right way.

‘The quality of the opponent is really high so we will have enough of a challenge. My preference would be for a full stadium but that isn’t the case so we adapt.’

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