BUDAPEST (Reuters) - The Hungarian Football Association will appeal FIFA’s decision to ban fans from attending their World Cup qualifying game against Romania in March because of a racist incident last year.
The punishment followed anti-Semitic chanting by fans in a friendly at home against Israel in August, for which the Hungarian FA (MLSZ) expressed regret, but they were unhappy with the ruling to play their 2014 World Cup Group D qualifier behind closed doors.
“That the Hungarian national team must serve its punishment at a vital game in the most prestigious international tournament for an incident at a friendly game seems overly harsh and unfair even before receiving the precise reasoning,” the MLSZ said.
“Therefore MLSZ will file its appeal after it receives the ruling in order for a more just decision in proportion to what happened (in August).”
The MLSZ added they wrote a letter after the August friendly to the Israeli ambassador in Hungary and the Israeli Football Association and FIFA to apologise, in which they “condemned the actions of a minority of fans at the game.”
“Considering the extremists behaviour experienced at the game, FIFA’s actions against such incidents is understandable,” the MLSZ added in the statement released on Tuesday.
”MLSZ - like FIFA and UEFA - is still determined to expel from the stadiums hateful acts and fan behaviour that do not adhere to the spirit of fair play.
“It is committed to making sure extremist voices that do not adhere to civilised norms disappear from Hungarian football fields as soon as possible.”
Hungary and Romania, who meet on March 22, are locked on nine points from four games, three behind group leaders Netherlands and six ahead of any challengers for second spot.
Reporting by Marton Dunai, additional reporting by Krisztina Fenyo, Editing by Tom Pilcher