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Police have launched an investigation into the display of a racist banner by home fans during Saturday’s Euro 2008 qualifier against France, the Lithuanian Football Federation has confirmed.

“The police have started an investigation to find out who is responsible for the incident,” Vaidotas Rastenis, the federation’s deputy spokesman, told AFP.

“The federation in turn is to release a statement for the fans related to the incident,” he added.

Home fans displayed a banner showing an outline map of Africa in the blue, white and red colours of France’s national flag, emblazoned with the words: “Welcome to Europe”.

The banner appeared to be aimed at France’s black players, who make up the bulk of the team.

Lithuanian federation chief Liutauras Varanvicius criticised the fans’ behaviour, saying their actions could bring sanctions against the Lithuanian team.

“Such an action is a crime. We now should expect heavy sanctions from UEFA,” Varanavicius said in an interview with the daily newspapers Kauno Diena.

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