Hungary and Bulgaria sanctioned by Fifa for racism

 

FIFA have ordered Hungary and Bulgaria to each play their next home World Cup qualifiers behind closed doors following racist or anti-Semitic abuse by their fans.

The FIFA disciplinary committee found a group of Hungary supporters had chanted anti-Semitic abuse and displayed offensive symbols in their friendly against Israel in Budapest last August.

The committee also said a section of Bulgaria fans had racially abused Denmark player Patrick Mtiliga "each time he touched the ball" in a World Cup qualifier in October. Bulgaria fans also threw two fireworks on to the pitch.

FIFA said in a statement they had conducted an "extensive investigation" into the accusations against the Hungarian fans and its disciplinary committee members "were unanimous in condemning an abhorrent episode of racism, anti-Semitism, and of political provocative and aggressive nature perpetrated by supporters of the Hungarian national team".

It said the Hungarian Football Association had already acknowledged and regretted the behaviour.

On the Bulgarian fans, FIFA said "the offensive, denigratory and discriminatory actions of a small group of Bulgarian supporters was shameful and a clear breach of the FIFA disciplinary code."

A public address warning had to be given to the fans over their abuse of Mtiliga, but some could still be heard.

FIFA added: "In addition, the incendiary devices thrown, which can pose considerable threats to personal safety, are also not tolerated."

Hungary will now have to play their World Cup qualifier against Romania on March 22 behind closed doors, while Bulgaria will have no fans at their qualifier against Malta on the same day.

The Hungarian FA were also fined 40,000 Swiss francs (£27,000) and the Bulgarian FA CHF 35,000 (£23,600).

FIFA has come under increasing pressure of late to impose heavier punishments for racist incidents.

They said both associations had been warned as to their future conduct and, should repeat incidents occur, they would have "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".

FIFA added: "FIFA strongly condemns all forms of racism in football, and any form of discrimination will not be tolerated and will receive a strong response by the relevant FIFA authorities."

PA

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