Hungary’s national soccer team will face sanctions because of anti-Semitic chants by its fans in August, the FIFA soccer association announced Tuesday.
The punishment handed out by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association’s disciplinary committee on January 8 included a $43,000 fine to be paid by the Hungarian MLSZ national team. It will also have to play its next home World Cup qualifiers match, scheduled for March against Romania, in an empty stadium.
The measures were FIFA’s response to chants of “stinking Jews” and “Heil Benito Mussolini” during a match defined as “friendly” against the Israeli national team in Budapest. The Hungarian fans also turned their backs as Hatikva, the Israeli national anthem, was played, and waved Palestinian and Iranian flags throughout the game.
The Zurich-based FIFA association said it “unanimously condemned the abhorrent episode of anti-Semitism” and actions of a “political, provocative and aggressive nature perpetrated by supporters of the Hungarian national team”.
Bulgaria will face a similar punishment after fans subjected Denmark defender Patrick Mtiliga, whose father is Tanzanian, to racist abuse and threw fireworks onto the pitch during a match last October.
In both cases, FIFA's disciplinary committee warned that a repetition could lead to harsher penalties which include a possible points deduction, the forfeiting of the match or even disqualification from the competition.
In an unusually strongly-worded statement, FIFA described the incidents in Sofia as "offensive, denigratory and discriminatory" while the incidents in Budapest were labeled "abhorrent."
The sanctions came as FIFA's European counterpart UEFA is accused of being too lenient on cases of racism, letting offending clubs off with fines.
Spectators in Rome allegedly made anti-Semitic chants during a Europa League game against Tottenham last November. The case will be discussed by UEFA’s control and disciplinary body on January 24.