Hungary has been ordered by FIFA to play two matches behind closed doors following racism by veteran English players in qualifying for the World Cup in Budapest on 2 September. However, the second ground closure is suspended for two years. The Hungarian Football Federation was also fined 158,400 pounds. “FIFA takes a clear position of zero tolerance against such ugly behavior in football,” the statement from FIFA said.
The governing body said it is “firm and steadfast in rejecting any form of racism and violence, as well as any other form of discrimination or abuse.” In June, UEFA fined the Hungarian Federation £85,500 and ordered the stadium to close with three games, the final match being suspended for discriminatory behavior by their supporters during Euro 2020.
The sanction did not apply to the visit to England, as qualifying for the World Cup was a FIFA game rather than UEFA’s control, which did not require the transfer of penalties. However Hungarian fans created chaos during the match against England, where Raheem Sterling was hit with a paper cup after the opening of England. Yet racially abused England national team players did not give up and managed a 4-0 match score against Hungary in a World Cup qualifier in Budapest.
FIFA said it had imposed the sanctions “after analyzing and taking into account all the circumstances of the case, in particular, the gravity of the incidents (racist words and actions, throwing objects, lighting fireworks, blocking stairs)”.
Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham were both targeted, England players were thrown with objects in the second half and a rocket was thrown onto the field by fans at Puskas Arena. England players were also exhorted to kneel before the match at the 67,000-seat stadium. When Harry Maguire led Gareth Southgate’s team 3–0, Sterling opened the scoring for England before throwing a rocket onto the field when Sterling was full of cups and paper bottles.
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