Hungary, Bulgaria hit by FIFA sanctions over racism
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Bulgaria and Hungary will each play their next World Cup qualifying matches on March 22 behind closed doors after racist incidents, among other infractions, marred previous encounters, FIFA said.
World football's governing body said yesterday that during the Hungary-Israel game in August, "a group of supporters had chanted anti-Semitic chants, and displayed other offensive symbols", which the Hungarian federation acknowledged and regretted.
"After taking into account the full circumstances of the case, and in particular due to the gravity of the incidents," FIFA's disciplinary committee ruled that Hungary's match against Romania on March 22 would now "be played without spectators".
The committee also decided to impose a fine of 33,000 euros on the Hungarian federation (MLSZ).
The MLSZ called FIFA's decision "harsh" and announced that they intended to lodge an appeal.
"It is both harsh and unfair that the Hungarian international team will be punished in the most crucial match in the most illustrious international tournament due to an incident which happened in a friendly match," the federation said in a statement.
Bulgaria's March 22 qualifier against Malta will also be behind closed doors after Denmark's Patrick Mtiliga was subjected to racist abuse by a group of Bulgarian fans in a match between the two countries in October.
"The offensive, denigratory and discriminatory actions of a small group of Bulgarian supporters was shameful and a clear breach of the FIFA disciplinary code," FIFA said, adding that two fireworks thrown onto the pitch were "also not tolerated".
The Bulgarian federation were fined 29,000 euros.
FIFA added that both federations had been "warned to their future conduct".
"Should such incidents of a racist nature occur again, the FIFA disciplinary committee would be left with no other option than to impose harsher sanctions, which could go as far as forfeiting a match, a points deduction, or disqualification from a competition."