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Soccer

FIFA reaffirms racism sanctions against Hungary and Bulgaria

FIFA has rejected appeals from Hungary and Bulgaria to drop racism sanctions. The two countries have been fined and ordered to play their next two home matches behind closed doors.

"The appeals lodged by the Hungarian Football Federation (MLZS) and the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) were both rejected and the decisions of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee rendered on November 20, 2012, are confirmed in their entirety," world football's governing body said in a statement Tuesday.

Both Hungary and Bulgaria must play their next qualifying match for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil on March 22 – against Romania and Malta respectively – without fans.

The MLZS, who were also fined 40,000 Swiss francs (32,550 euros, $44,00), were punished for anti-Semitic chants by Hungary fans in a friendly at home to Israel on August 15 (pictured above).

The BFU – fined 35,000 Swiss francs – were sanctioned after a group of supporters racially abused Denmark's Patrick Mtliga every time he touched the ball after entering the match during their October 12 World Cup qualifier in Sofia.

Fans were warned

FIFA said that during the Bulgaria match, fans were warned by the stadium announcer about their behavior in the 73rd minute.

In Hungary's case, FIFA said it was informed by FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) that some supporters had made anti-Semitic chants and displayed offensive symbols.

In its statement Tuesday, the football body said it had warned the both the MLZS and BFU that if "such incidents of racist/discriminatory nature occur again, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee would be left with no other option than to impose harsher sanctions, which could go as far as forfeiting a match, a points deduction or disqualification from a competition."

dr/ipj (Reuters, AFP, AP)