Ferenc Puskas Stadium. (Image from http://en.wikipedia.org photo by Civertan)Hungary and Bulgaria will play their next World Cup 2014 qualifiers without spectators due to the anti-Semitic and racist behavior of their supporters.The Disciplinary Committee of the world’s football governing body, FIFA, informed the country’s federations of the ruling on Tuesday. Hungary were punished after their fans chanted anti-Semitic slogans and displayed other offensive symbols during a friendly game against Israel, which took place in Budapest on August 15, 2012.The Hungarian national team will now face Romania in front of an empty stand in the Brazil 2014 qualifier on March 22. Bulgaria received the same strict penalty after their supporters racially abused Denmark’s defender Patrick Mtiliga every time he touched the ball in the home World Cup preliminary game on October 12, 2012. Flares were thrown to the pitch during the match, endangering the footballers and the people in the stands. This means the Bulgarian team’s match against Malta on March 22 will also be played without spectators. Hungary and Bulgaria were also handed fines of $44.000 and $38.000, respectively. “FIFA strongly condemns all forms of racism in football, and any form of discrimination will not be tolerated and will receive a strong response by the relevant FIFA authorities,” a statement on the organization’s official website said. The two federations were warned that if incidents of a racist nature reoccur, harsher sanctions, including forfeiting a match, points deduction or disqualification from the competition, may be imposed against them.
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