On 29 January, Sepsi OSK, the team of Transylvanian Sepsiszentgyörgy (Sfântu Gheorghe) hosted FC U Craiova in a top-division football league game in Romania. As we However, as Hungarian Conservative reported, referee Andrei Florin Chivulete put the match to a premature end after the away fans refused to refrain from anti-Hungarian chants. Chivulete was praised by many, including the Romanian FA President Razvan Burleanu and Romanian former FIFA referee Marius Avram for following UEFA’s newly implemented three-step protocol when dealing with discriminatory chants from the stands.
At first, the loudspeaker told the visiting fans to stop the shouting of anti-Hungarian slogans while the game was briefly stopped. As they refused to comply, a longer, 10-minute break broke up the game. Since that was not enough either, the referee ended the match for good.
For a couple of days, it seemed that the footballing society of Hungary’s eastern neighbour handled the unfortunate situation as reasonably as they could. Despite the misgivings of the FC U Craiova leadership, the game was awarded to Sepsi OSK with a 3-0 scoreline. However, in early March, the appeals committee of the Football Federation overturned the original decision. The controversial call meant that the game between Sepsi and Craiova had to be replayed. The day after the appeal was granted, FCSB fans in Bucharest threw eggs at the Sepsi OSK bus before the FSCB-Sepsi league fixture.
What’s more, this very game came to decide which team can advance to the championship play-offs and which team have to play in the relegation play-offs.
In Romania, the 16 teams play each other for 30 rounds. After the 30-round league part of the competition is played out, the teams are split into a group of six and a group of 10 based on their league standings. The top six teams in the table get to fight for the championship title and places in European competitions the next year. Meanwhile, the bottom 10 clubs only play to avoid the last four relegation spots.
The replayed game between Sepsi OSK and FC U Craivoa was the only one left on the schedule in the conference part of the championship. Sepsi was sitting on 39 points in 7th place on the table, while Croiva had 40 points in 6th. This meant that if Sepsi won, they got to advance to the championship playoffs. In case of a tie or Craivoa victory, the visitors would have gone through.
Sespi OSK Triumphs By Bigger Margin On Pitch Than Their Overturned 3-0 Victory by Ruling
Naturally, tensions were sky-high leading up to the game rescheduled for 16 March.
These tensions were quickly alleviated on Sepsi’s part as they took an early lead in the seventh minute. Nicolae Păun tapped in an easy goal after a rebound came off of the Craivoa goalkeeper deflecting a low cross into the box.
By the time half-time came, Sepsi were up 3-0, with Mihai Bălașa and Adnan Aganović also scoring in the 16th and 44th minute, respectively. Pavol Šafranko set the final scoreline shortly after the break, in the 49th minute. He too scored a rebound, putting the ball into the net that came off the post after a header after a corner, making it 4-0.
While some Romanian fans celebrated the decision to replay the game, FC U Craiova ended up with a worse score than if the original ruling had stood. Sepsi OSK are off to the championship play-off, with an outside chance of winning the title, and the more real possibility of securing a spot in either the Europe League or the Europa Conference League next season. The only reason Hungarian fans of Sepsi may feel some disappointment is that neither Hungarian international player on the roster got to play in the triumphant game. Winger Roland Varga is out with an injury, while left-back Márk Tamás did not make the starting line-up due to bad form.