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Croat soccer fans clash with police as club changes name

ZAGREB, Feb 15, 2000 -- (Reuters) A Croatian soccer club changed its name for the third time in nine years on Monday as 500 protesting fans fought with police outside the ground.

Dozens of riot police were stationed in front of the entrance to Zagreb's Maksimir stadium as Croatia Zagreb's management approved a move for the club to revert back to its Yugoslav-era name of Dinamo Zagreb.

The fans, who had been demanding the name change for years, threw bottles and fireworks at the police, shouted abuse at club president Zlatko Canjuga and tried to break into the stadium, an eyewitness said.

Some were injured and taken to hospital.

Since 1991, the club has been named "Hask-Gradjanski" and ~Croatia~ - prompting rebellion by fans. The club was called Dinamo while the country was part of communist Yugoslavia.

The club have won four national titles and three cups in the last four years but have failed to make an impact in Europe after being eliminated from the initial stage of the Champions League for the past two seasons.

"I believe we are turning a new page in the club's history," Dinamo director Velimir Zajec said after Monday's meeting.

"I think confidence has been restored as well as the name, which was unjustly taken away. Our fans deserved it."




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