ZAGREB (Reuters) - European soccer body UEFA has upheld its decision to deduct a point from Croatia's Euro 2016 qualifying tally for a racist incident in June.
"UEFA's Appeals Body has upheld the decision to dock Croatia one point for racist behavior at their qualifying Group H game against Italy," UEFA said on Friday. "The appeal by the HNS (Croatian football federation) was rejected."
The Croatians were ordered to play their next two home games in UEFA competition behind closed doors and fined 100,000 euros ($113,690.00).
The decision means Croatia is third in Group H on 14 points from eight games, four behind leader Italy and two adrift of second-placed Norway.
It is at home to Bulgaria and away to Malta in its final two qualifiers in October.
UEFA punished the Croatians after the team's fans used a chemical agent to imprint a swastika on the pitch of Split's Poljud stadium before their 1-1 draw with Italy in June.
The swastika became visible during the match, played behind closed doors for a previous offense by Croatian fans who shouted racist chants during a 5-1 home win over Norway in March.
The top two teams from each of the nine groups and the best third-placed team will qualify automatically for next year's 24-nation tournament along with host France.
The other eight third-placed teams will enter a two-legged playoff for the remaining four berths.
($1 = 0.8796 euros)
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic in Belgrade; Editing by Alan Baldwin)