A gentle slap? FIFA sanction Hungary for monkey gestures, racist chants, and throwing objects

September 22 – Hungary have been handed a two-match stadium ban, one of them deferred, and been fined CHF200,000 by FIFA after England players were subjected to racist abuse in a World Cup Qualifier earlier this month.

FIFA launched an investigation after monkey chants were aimed at Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham during England’s 4-0 win in Budapest.

FIFA decided on two matches being played behind closed doors, with the second suspended for a probationary period of two years.

It is the second time Hungary, led by far-right prime minister Viktor Orban, have been sanctioned for racism by fans.

In July they were ordered to play their next three UEFA-organised matches without supporters after incidents of racism and homophobia at Euro 2020, with one of those games suspended for two years.

Hungary’s next home World Cup qualifier and the one that will be without fans is against Albania on October 9.

FIFA said its punishment covered “racist words and actions, throwing of objects, lighting of fireworks [and] blocked stairways”.

Plastic cups were also hurled at England players during the match.

Tony Burnett, chief executive of the Kick It Out anti-discrimination movement, welcomed the sanctions but that they did not go far enough.

“The Hungarian Football Federation was already serving a UEFA ban, so we know that punishments like this do not effectively deter fans who abused England players earlier in the month from repeating their behaviour,” he said.

“We need the footballing authorities to assume genuine responsibility for player safety, both from physical and discriminatory abuse. This means applying or duplicating sanctions that result from discrimination during competitions in other federations, as well as assessing the risk posed to players during games held in specific nations. For those countries that have proven unable to control fans’ appalling behaviour, excluding them from competing at major tournaments should not be off the table.”

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