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Hungary handed FIFA fine, one-match fan ban for racism

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Budapest, Hungary – FIFA has issued a one-match fan ban against Hungary over the racist behaviour of some of its supporters.

The Hungarian team will have to play its next World Cup qualifying match against Albania on October 9 behind closed doors and without any fan in attendance.

The world’s football governing body also issued a €185,000 fine against Hungary, one of the largest financial penalties handed by FIFA, over the incident that occurred during the match against England earlier this month, played in front of some 60,000 supporters.

Monkey chants could be heard, primarily directed towards Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham, who are Black, and English players were also booed when they took the knee before kick-off.

After the match, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted it was “completely unacceptable that England players were racially abused in Hungary”, urging FIFA to take “strong action against those responsible”.

Finding “numerous supporters” guilty of blatant racist behaviour at the game held at Budapest’s Puskas Arena, FIFA said the fans used “racist words and actions, threw objects, lit fireworks, and blocked stairways”.

Recognizing that the decision “will not deal with the problem of racism” in Hungarian football stadiums in a systemic way, Piara Powar, head of the anti-racism FARE network, nevertheless welcomed the ban as “a signal from FIFA of a renewed determination to punish racism”.

“If all Hungarian offences had been taken into account, they would be facing exclusion from the World Cup,” he added.

Following a formal complaint from the UK government, the Hungarian football association said it had launched an investigation to identify the perpetrators, but FIFA – as well as UEFA and other governing federations – has faced growing public pressure to crack down on football fans’ racist behaviour during matches.

Following similar incidents during Euro 2020 games, UEFA had issued a two-match fan ban against Hungary. The UEFA ban, however, had not been implemented yet, and will only take effect next June during the Nations League.

“UEFA should have asked FIFA to apply their previous sanction and the Hungary vs. England match played behind closed doors,” Powar argued. “An administrative loophole has allowed racism to flourish.”