The leader of Hungary's far-right Jobbik party has criticized the international soccer federation’s decision to ban Hungarian fans from attending the World Cup qualifying game between Hungary and Romania in March.
The Federation of International Football Associations punished the fans over their anti-Semitic chanting by fans during a friendly at-home game against Israel last August. The Hungarian fans also waved Iranian flags at the Israeli players, who were warned of a "severe threat" to their safety.
Jobbik leader Gábor Vona said the ban was unprecedented and accused FIFA of interference.
"This sanction comes at the time of such a crucial match — we feel this is unprecedented and the international football association is thus interfering in the final results," Vona said on Wednesday.
He said racist chanting was usual at international matches, and blamed Israel's foreign policies for the hostile reaction its players had received.
"I cannot imagine that Israel would go to any place in the world for a football match and there would be no criticism of Israel's policies in the football stadium stands," he said.
Meanwhile, the Hungarian Football Association has said it will appeal against FIFA's decision.
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.
Hungary's national sports daily ran a full front-page image on Wednesday headed "Locked out!" and called the decision "shocking," while fan pages on social media sites exploded with condemnations of FIFA and its leaders, often repeating anti-Semitic slurs.
Last November, one Jobbik leader, Márton Gyöngyösi, urged the government to draw up lists of Jews who posed a "national security risk," stirring outrage among Jewish leaders who saw echoes of fascist policies that led to the Holocaust.
Between 500,000 and 600,000 Hungarian Jews died in the Holocaust, according to the Holocaust Memorial Center in Budapest. According to some accounts, a third of Jews killed in Auschwitz were Hungarian nationals.