Bulgaria’s national football team will play its World Cup qualifying match, against Malta on March 22, in front of empty stands after the game’s governing body Fifa decided that a penalty was warranted following Bulgarian supporters’ behaviour during the October 12 match against Denmark, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
“Denmark’s Patrick Mtiliga was subjected to racist abuse by a group of Bulgarian supporters each time he touched the ball after entering the field in the 54th minute,” Fifa said in a statement. Racist chants prompted match officials to ask for a public address warning to fans and although it was toned down, abusive remarks were still heart until the end of the match
Fifa’s disciplinary committee, which made the sanctions decision in November but announced it on January 8, agreed that “the offensive, denigratory and discriminatory actions of a small group of Bulgarian supporters, was shameful and a clear breach of the Fifa disciplinary code. In addition, the incendiary devices thrown, which can pose considerable threats to personal safety, are also not tolerated.”
The same penalty was handed down to the Hungarian national team, stemming from fans’ behaviour during a friendly match against Israel on August 15, when home supporters chanted anti-Semitic chants, and displayed offensive symbols. Hungary will play its next official game, against Romania on March 22, in an empty stadium.
The two national federations were warned by Fifa that “should such incidents of a racist 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.”
(Photo: juan carlos arellano/sxc.hu)