PUNISHMENT: FIFA fine Hungary and ban fans for two matches
PA - Attila Trenka
Hungary have been ordered to play two home FIFA competition matches behind closed doors, one suspended for two years, over racist behaviour by fans at the World Cup qualifier against England earlier this month.
Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham were targeted with monkey chants during the match on September 2 in Budapest, which England won 4-0.
In addition to the stadium ban, FIFA’s disciplinary committee imposed a fine of 200,000 Swiss francs (just under £160,000).
A FIFA statement read: “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), the committee decided that the MLSZ would play its next two home matches in FIFA competitions without spectators, the second match being suspended for a probationary period of two years.
“FIFA’s position remains firm and resolute in rejecting any form of racism and violence as well as any other form of discrimination or abuse. FIFA takes a clear zero-tolerance stance against such abhorrent behaviour in football.”
FIFA opened proceedings against Hungary the day after the match, but the football authorities were criticised over the failure to carry over a UEFA stadium ban imposed in July for racist chanting and homophobic banners into the World Cup qualifiers, which are overseen by FIFA.
The UEFA sanctions do not come into force until the Nations League next year. Article 66 of FIFA’s disciplinary code allows confederations such as UEFA to request the extension of a sanction into FIFA competition, but UEFA sources insisted at the time of the incident against England that its own regulations had prevented it from doing so.
The Professional Footballers’ Association also condemned the abuse and urged FIFA and UEFA to close the regulatory “loophole”.
It is also understood FIFA’s disciplinary committee was unable to take the previous offending sanctioned by UEFA just two months ago into account. Again, sources cited the fact that Article 66 had not been invoked.
FIFA had promised “adequate actions” after the incident and despite the much larger fine than ones previously handed to Hungary, it remains to be seen whether the wider football community will regard this sanction that way.
Bellingham tweeted the day after the match to say that racist abuse would be “part of the game” until “proper punishments” were issued.
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