Nov 27 (Reuters) - Ukraine must play their opening home qualifier for the 2018 World Cup behind closed doors after FIFA rejected their appeal against punishment for fans' racist behaviour.
The world governing body imposed the sanction following Ukraine's 2014 World Cup qualifying win over San Marino in Lviv on Sept. 6, which FIFA said was marred by "several racist and discriminatory incidents".
The ban was temporarily lifted until Ukraine's appeal was heard. In a statement on Wednesday, FIFA said it supported the original sanctions "in their entirety".
Ukraine's national side will also be banned from playing any 2018 qualifying matches at the Lviv Arena, and Football Federation of Ukraine has been fined 45,000 Swiss Francs ($49,600) and warned as to its future conduct.
"After receiving a report by FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe), the committee agreed that the offensive and discriminatory actions of a group of Ukrainian supporters (on Sept. 6) were shameful and a clear breach of the FIFA disciplinary code," the governing body said on its website (www.fifa.com).
"FIFA is committed to fighting all forms of discrimination in football and works closely with its member associations around the world to educate and inspire a message of equality and respect... FIFA also insists on strict punishments to send out a strong message that discrimination has no place in the game."
($1 = 0.9082 Swiss francs) (Writing by Stephen Wood; Editing by Alison Wildey)