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April 1st Football Joke Sparks Protest in Croatia


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An April Fool's joke nearly caused a riot in Croatia after thousands of protesters took to the streets after an online news service claimed the country faced being banned from the 2006 World Cup finals unless it handed over fugitive general Ante Gotovina.


Croatian site Index news claimed FIFA would not allow Croatia to take part in the World Cup unless the country handed over Gotovina, who is wanted for war crimes during the civil war that led to the break up of Yugoslavia. The EU has cancelled entry negotiations with Croatia for refusing to hand him over.


FIFA's president Sepp Blatter was quoted as saying: "It is clear that Croats care about football more than about anything else. In contact with EU Council of Ministers, we have decided to ban Croatia from World Cup before the country extradites the fugitive general Ante Gotovina."


Thousands of protestors took to the streets carrying banners in support of Gotovina and attacking FIFA before the web site admitted it had made the whole thing up.


Croatia leads in the World Cup's Group Eight with 13 points from five matches ahead of Sweden, Bulgaria, Hungary, Iceland and Malta.





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