Why is Hungary vs. England being played behind closed doors in Budapest? Details on fan ban for UEFA Nations League match

Why is Hungary vs. England being played behind closed doors in Budapest? Details on fan ban for UEFA Nations League match

England play the first of four UEFA Nations League games this month with a 2022/23 competition-opener away in Hungary on June 4.

Gareth Southgate’s side head into the game unbeaten in nine games after losing on penalties to Italy in the Euro 2020 final.

Within that streak of results, England picked up four points from two games in 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Hungary, but their win in Budapest in September was marred by ugly scenes in the stands.

England players, including Manchester City star Raheem Sterling, were subjected to racist chanting from the home fans, with flares thrown onto the pitch at the Puskas Arena.

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Why is this game played behind closed doors?

FIFA issued a stadium ban for two games after the disgraceful incidents against England with the Hungarian FA also fined £158,400 ($199,300).

As such, Hungary’s home defeat to Albania last October was played without the normal number of spectators present. The second match in the ban was suspended for two years by FIFA.

Hungary fans fighting

A separate sanction from UEFA due to “racism and discriminatory chanting” at the Puskas Arena during Hungary’s three home games at Euro 2020 meant they were ordered to play their next two Nations League matches behind closed doors. However, following an appeal, that punishment was reduced to one game.

The Hungarian FA were again fined, in the region of £85,000 ($107,000), but UEFA held the ban for European-only competition.

Hungary have not played a UEFA match since Euro 2020.

Will there be any fans at the Puskas Arena?

UEFA rules allow each team to bring a designated amount of people to each behind-closed-doors game depending on the size of each nation’s wider support staff.

However, the Puskas Arena will not be empty of fans on June 4, with UEFA regulations allowing children to watch games for free.

National football associations are permitted to distribute tickets to local schools and grassroots football clubs for international games for children aged 14 and under.

AFL Kids

UK stadium safeguarding rules indicate a maximum of one child for every 10 adults is permitted to attend with the likelihood of 2,000-4,000 young fans allowed under those rules at most Premier League grounds.

Exact figures on how many children will be allowed to watch the game are unclear, via Hungarian FA tickets, but there will be some fans in attendance in Budapest.

Are other UEFA Nations League games played behind closed doors?

England will also play another game behind closed doors due to crowd trouble at Wembley Stadium ahead of their Euro 2020 final defeat.

Hundreds of ticketless fans fought with security staff and police ahead of kickoff and UEFA subsequently issued a two-game banning order and a £84,560 ($106,380) fine to the FA.

The second game of the ban was suspended for 24 months but it will not impact Wembley anyway as England first UEFA Nations League home game, against Italy on June 11, will be played at Wolves’ Molineux.

Children will again be allowed to attend, with an estimated 2,500 expected to watch Southgate’s side take on the European champions.