FIFA, the international governing body of football, is punishing Hungary for the behavior of some fans during a match between England and Hungary on Sept. 3. The penalties include an order that Hungary must fight its qualifying match against Albania behind closed doors on Oct. 9. The Hungarian Association (MLSZ) also received a fine of 200,000 Swiss francs (HUF 65 million).
According to the body’s statement, FIFA’s harsh decision was the seriousness of the case, according to Tuesday’s announcement.
“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. In addition, the Committee imposed a fine of CHF 200,000.” the FIFA statement said.
“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.”
Hungary played England at home on Sept. 3 and lost the match 4-0. Afterwards, both English Federal Captain Gareth Southgate and Team Captain Harry Kane said they had not witnessed racist incidents, but if there were any, it was completely unacceptable and deserved punishment.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote on his community page: “It is completely unacceptable that English players have had to suffer racist insults in Hungary.”
The prime minister also called on FIFA to “take decisive action against those responsible in order to eradicate this kind of disgraceful behavior from the sport once and for all.”
The announcement of the MLSZ at that time emphasized that the vast majority of the 60,000 fans visiting the Puskás Arena showed enthusiasm and encouraged the Hungarian national team even when the team was losing.
“It is in their defense that the disruptors need to be identified and severely punished. Fans entering the field, throwing light grenades and glasses, are being identified. The MLSZ will file a police complaint against them,” the association said on its website, noting that any fines will be passed on to the perpetrators in civil litigation, who may also expect a two-year disqualification from sporting events at the end of the trial.
In July, the European Union (UEFA) penalized the Hungarian national team for three closed goalkeeper matches — one suspended for a two-year probationary period — because its fans behaved in a discriminatory manner in three group matches of the European Championships, partly held in Budapest.
Title image: Hungarian supporters at the Hungary-England match on September 3, 2021. (MTI/Zsolt Szigetváry)