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FIFA Orders Hungary, Bulgaria To Play Matches Without Fans

FIFA, world soccer's governing body, has said that Bulgaria and Hungary must both play their next World Cup qualifying matches without any spectators in response to racist incidents and other infractions by their fans that have marred previous matches.

The ruling by FIFA's disciplinary committee means there will be no spectators at their matches on March 22 -- Hungary versus Romania and Bulgaria against Malta.

The ruling against Hungary stems from their match in August against Israel when a group of supporters repeated what FIFA described as "anti-Semitic chants" and displayed "offensive symbols."

The ruling against Bulgaria is tied to an October match with Denmark.

FIFA says a small group of Bulgarian fans committed "offensive, denigrating, and discriminatory actions" that were "shameful" and in clear breach of FIFA's disciplinary code.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters