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Hungary to appeal FIFA punishment

The Hungarian Football Association (MLSZ) is set to appeal FIFA's decision that the national side must play their World Cup qualifying game against Romania in March behind closed doors.

FIFA handed out the punishment for anti-Semitic chanting by Hungary fans in a friendly at home against Israel in August.

While the MLSZ has since expressed its regret over the incident, it has released a statement explaining its anger at the decision made by world football's governing body.

The statement read: "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.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 said it had written a letter to the Israeli ambassador in Hungary, the Israeli Football Association and FIFA after the August friendly to apologise for "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 statement added. "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.

Bulgaria were also ordered by FIFA to play their next World Cup qualifier in an empty stadium as a result of racial abuse. The governing body fined Bulgaria 35,000 Swiss francs (£23,500) and Hungary 40,000 Swiss francs (£27,000).

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