March 23, 2017

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) Croatia's prime minister appealed to soccer fans to behave during Friday's World Cup qualifying match against Ukraine.

Andrej Plenkovic urged all state institutions to make sure that the game in Zagreb passes without incidents.

It is the first time Croatia fans will be allowed into a home match in this World Cup qualifying program. FIFA ordered the Maksimir Stadium closed to fans when Croatia hosted Turkey and Iceland last year as punishment for previous incidents of racism and disorder.

''We must all take responsibility so that everything passes in order,'' Plenkovic said Thursday.

Plenkovic's appeal comes only weeks after a masked man chased a referee with a metal bar during a local league match between Hajduk and Rijeka. Hajduk was fined over the incident and ordered to play two games in an empty stadium.

There have been other incidents in the past involving Croatian fans, some as a protest against soccer federation leaders, including at the European Championship in France last June.

A Euro 2016 game against the Czech Republic in Saint-Etienne was stopped for several minutes when fans threw flares on the field.

Croatia is in Group I with Ukraine, Iceland, Turkey, Finland and Kosovo.

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