FIFA, football’s global governing body, has ruled that Hungary must play its next World Cup qualifier without fans after spectators at Budapest’s Puskás Aréna racially abused England players during their match earlier this month.
The Hungarian Football Federation (MLSZ) has also been fined CHF200,000 (£158,000/€185,000/$217,000) by FIFA’s disciplinary committee. The committee has decided that Hungary will play its next two home matches in FIFA competitions without fans, although the second fixture is suspended for a probationary period of two years.
FIFA said the punishment is in relation to the “racist behaviour of numerous supporters” during the September 2 match, which England won 4-0. FIFA said its disciplinary committee reached the decision after analysing all of the circumstances, specifically the seriousness of incidents such as racist words and actions, throwing of objects, lighting of fireworks and blocked stairways.
“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,” the governing body said in a statement. “FIFA takes a clear zero tolerance stance against such abhorrent behaviour in football.”
The CHF200,000 fine marks one of the largest handed out by FIFA. Hungary was also forced to stage qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup and UEFA Euro 2016 behind closed doors due to the racist behaviour of fans.
The 67,000-capacity Puskás Aréna opened in 2019 and served as a host venue during this summer’s UEFA European Championship. Its staging of Euro 2020 matches was marred by homophobic abuse among supporters and as a result UEFA handed Hungary a two-match spectator ban which will come into effect during next year’s Nations League.
The one-match ban handed out by FIFA will apply to the October 9 World Cup qualifier against Albania.