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Hungary gets one-match fan ban, $217,000 FIFA fine for racism


Players react as the game needs to be interrupted due to flares landing on the pitch during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualification Group I football match between Hungary and England, at the Puskas Arena in Budapest on September 2, 2021. (Photo by Attila KISBENEDEK / AFP) (Photo by ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

LONDON -- Hungary was ordered by FIFA on Tuesday to play its next World Cup qualifier without spectators as punishment for the latest racial abuse by its supporters when England played in Budapest.

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The Hungarian federation was also fined 200,000 Swiss francs ($217,000), one of the largest financial penalties handed out to a country by the world governing body.

The team will have to play another FIFA match in an empty stadium if there are future incidents of abuse, with the second match of the punishment being suspended for a probationary period of two years.

Hungary’s Sept. 2 match against England in Budapest would already have been played without spectators had FIFA been asked to implement a UEFA punishment for discriminatory abuse during European Championship matches.

That two-game ban on spectators will take effect next June for Nations League games.

But Hungary will have to host Albania on Oct. 9 in an empty stadium in its next World Cup qualifier.

FIFA’s disciplinary committee ruled there had been “racist behaviour of numerous supporters” during the England match this month. Monkey chants were aimed at England forward Raheem Sterling and unused substitute Jude Bellingham, who are Black.

“After analysing and taking into consideration all the circumstances of the case, specifically the seriousness of the incidents (racist words and actions, throwing of objects, lighting of fireworks, blocked stairways),” FIFA said, “the committee decided that (Hungary) would play its next two home matches in FIFA competitions without spectators, the second match being suspended for a probationary period of two years.”

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