England’s game against Hungary in Budapest on Saturday, which was scheduled to be played behind closed doors, will now have a crowd in excess of 30,000, Sky Sports News has confirmed.
The three-match spectator ban was issued by UEFA in June 2021 as punishment for racist abuse from fans during Euro 2020.
While Hungary was waiting to serve that UEFA ban, they were handed a separate two-game ban by FIFA, after further racist abuse was directed towards England’s players from the stands in the Puskas Arena, when the two teams met in a World Cup Qualifier in September.
But a loophole in UEFA’s rules allows for children to attend a closed game such as this, with every 10 children allowed to be accompanied by one adult.
Page 41 of UEFA’s Disciplinary Procedures dictates that only 55 people from each team delegation can attend, including the players, along with 120 special guests and VIPs from the visiting team.
But the procedures also state that “children under the age of 14 from schools and/or football academies can be invited to the match free of charge.” There is no limit to the number who can attend under UEFA’s rules.
The Hungarian FA has told SSN that they have so far received more than 30,000 registrations for the complimentary tickets, from children and their guardians from all over the country.
They expect to receive more applications for tickets before the Nations League match kicks off on Saturday afternoon.
In September, Rangers’ Glen Kamara was routinely booed by a crowd of 10,000 Sparta Prague fans – also largely made up of school children – during a Europa League group stage clash in the Czech capital.
That game was intended to be played behind closed doors as another punishment for a racial abuse charge the previous season, but fell into the same loophole.