SOCCER-INTERNATIONAL

Croatia defender Lovren banned for insulting Spain

NYON, Switzerland (AP) UEFA has banned defender Dejan Lovren from Croatia"s opening European Championship qualifier after he appeared in a video insulting Spain.

The video was posted shortly after Croatia beat Spain 3-2 in November. It featured Lovren mocking Spain and appearing to hint he deliberately stuck Spain"s Sergio Ramos with his elbow.

UEFA banned Lovren from Croatia"s home qualifier against Azerbaijan on March 21.

UEFA also fined Croatia 13,000 euros ($15,000) over charges that fans threw objects and blocked stairways at Zagreb"s Maksimir Stadium.

Croatia"s win over Spain was revenge for a 6-0 defeat two months before. It dented Spain"s hopes of qualifying for the Nations League semifinals, eventually allowing England to snatch the qualifying spot instead.

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