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The national football teams of Hungary and Romania will meet today in Budapest in a Group D game counting for the World Cup 2014 qualifiers. The game will be played behind closed doors at 9.30 pm, following a UEFA decision that sanctioned the behavior of Hungarian fans during last year’s Hungary vs. Israel friendly.Nationalist tensions mar this evening’s game too, after Rapid Bucharest fans torched a Hungarian flag last week in a League I game in Cluj, a gesture that did not go unnoticed by the Hungarian Football Federation. “We were suspended for far less than that,” the official website of the Hungarian Football Federation reads. “Such incidents cause serious damages to the spirit of fair-play that should exist in sport.”
On Thursday the Romanian Football Federation presented official apologies for this incident. “The Romanian Football Federation and the Romanian national team extend their apologies to the Hungarian Football Federation, the Hungarian national football team, the Hungarian citizens and the Hungarian state for the irresponsible gesture committed by an irresponsible person during the FC CFR 1907 Cluj vs. FC Rapid Bucharest game in leg 23 of League I.” Even Premier Victor Ponta reacted in this case: “Behavior of this kind has no place in any European society in the 21st Century, least of all in a sports arena,” Premier Victor Ponta stated in a government communiqué. Rapid was fined RON 30,000 as a result of the incident. Moreover, the team will play its next League I game behind closed doors.
The Romanian gendarmerie announced that it has identified the young man that torched the flag and the investigations continue. Romania and Hungary are in a tie (9 points each) in Group D, behind group leaders Netherlands (12 points), so tonight’s game is essential in the battle for the second place in the group. Immediately after the game the national team will head to Amsterdam where it will play against the Netherlands on Tuesday.