BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (JANUARY 9, 2013) (REUTERS) - People on the streets of Budapest gave mixed reaction on Wednesday (January 9) to the news that Hungary have been ordered to play their next home World Cup qualifiers behind closed doors after their fans were found guilty of racist and anti-Semitic behaviour during recent games.
Football's world governing body, FIFA, announced the disciplinary measure on Tuesday (January 8), handing a similar punishment to Bulgaria, sanctioned after a group of supporters racially abusedDenmark substitute Patrick Mtiliga every time he touched the ball after he came on as a second-half substitute of the country's 2014 World Cup qualifier in Sofia in October.
In both cases, FIFA's disciplinary committee warned that a repetition could lead to harsher penalties which include a possible points deduction, the forfeiting of the match or even disqualification from the competition.
Reactions to FIFA's decision were mixed, but most people felt Sepp Blatter's organisation had got it right.
"I think this punishment is somewhat understandable, and the Hungarian [Football] Association should take a tougher stance against these fans," resident Imre Pap said.
But another, Robert Suranyi, said: "I find it a little too harsh - it was because some Israeli match where fans behaved unsuitably. This is the practice in Europe, the international organizations are strict, we can learn from it."
Others said they hoped this would be a lesson for the misbehaving fans.
"I think this was the right decision and it will be a lesson for the football fans how they should enjoy football matches in a cultured way," resident Mark Rekasi said.
Another resident, Attila Pelkovics, said: "I think this is a problem but it's a problem of a certain small layer of the fans and now it affects the whole football society."
The sanctions came as FIFA's European counterpart UEFA is accused of being too lenient on cases of racism, letting offending clubs and national associations off with fines.
Porto, Lazio and Serbia have all been hit in the pocket over recent racism cases by European soccer's disciplinary committee, although UEFA itself has appealed the Serbia decision, relating to an under-21 match at home to England, and asked for stronger sanctions.
Hungary's match is potentially decisive as the two sides are level in second place with nine points, three behind leaders and clear favourites Netherlands.
FIFA said that during the Bulgaria match, also marred by a firework-throwing incident in the seventh-minute, fans were warned by the stadium announcer about their behaviour in the 73rd minute.
It added that the Hungarian Federation had acknowledged and regretted the fans' behaviour.