Ahead of its two-legged Champions League clash with Steaua Bucharest, UEFA ordered defending Polish champion Legia Warsaw to close part of its stadium for the home leg and pay a €30,000 fine. The charge stems from altercations with fans of The New Saints in the teams’ match-up in Wales on July 17.
Legia will have to close the north stand of Stadion Wojska Polskiego, where many of its ultras sit, when Steaua visits on Aug. 27. The first leg is Wednesday in Romania.
In its official release, UEFA said it has stepped up its fight against racism since unveiling new regulations June 1 that should result in more severe sanctions for racist behavior, particularly for repeat offenders.
Two years ago, fans unveiled a banner reading “Jihad Legia” during a game against Hapoel Tel Aviv of Israel. That stunt cost the club €10,000.
The incident overshadows what should be an entertaining clash between two defending champions that will see one reach the Champions League group stage for the first time in either five (Steaua) or 18 (Legia) years.
A previous encounter with a Romanian team in Warsaw saw Legia earn its second largest win in a continental competition. In the 1969-70 season, Legia defeated UTA Arad 8-0 at home, scoring seven goals in the final 20 minutes of the game.
Both Legia and Steaua will feel this is their best opportunity to make a mark on the European scene. Steaua in particular is packed with promising talent, including center back Vlad Chiricheș, who drew interest from Tottenham Hotspur and AS Roma this summer.