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Romania vs Norway: Why were thousands of children watching? | #TheCube

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Romania vs Norway: Why were thousands of children watching? | #TheCube
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George Calin via REUTERS ROMANIA
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Romania faced Norway in their European Championship 2020 qualifier match on Tuesday in Bucharest, but the majority of the spectators watching were under 14 years old.

Almost 30,000 children watched the game, far outweighing the number of adults in Bucharest’s National Arena.

Romania had been sanctioned for racist behaviour by UEFA in previous matches and the game against Norway was to be played 'behind closed doors' with no spectators in attendance.

But under Article 73 of UEFA's Disciplinary Regulations, "children up to the age of 14 (duly accompanied) from schools and football academies invited to the match free of charge."

At the invitation of the Romanian Football Federation, a total of 29,854 spectators filled the stadium, most of them children, with an adult accompanying every 10 children as per UEFA regulations.

This reportedly set a new record for the number of child-supporters present at an official European match.

Journalists attending the game noted on social media that no booing could be heard over the Norwegian national anthem.

After the match, Romanian players took to the pitch with a banner, thanking those in attendance for their support.

"The innocence of children highlights the value of inclusion and diversity"

The Romanian Football Federation was fined €83,000 by UEFA for failing to control their supporters in previous matches against Spain and Malta. Sanctions were handed out for pitch invasions, setting off fireworks, throwing objects and racist behaviour by their supporters, including offensive banners and chants.

Earlier this week, UEFA also announced that charges would be brought against Bulgaria after England players were allegedly subjected to racist chanting in their match in Sofia.

In a statement to Euronews, the Romanian Football Federation said that they were committed to fighting discrimination, racism and hate speech and "applauded and embraced" UEFA's decision for the match to be played behind closed doors.

"The innocence of children highlights the value of inclusion and diversity which are embraced by the Romanian Football Federation in all its activities."

"Opposed to the extremism of ultras, the joy and emotion excreted by the children during the match convey a message of virtuous education of the public in the spirit of love for the game."

It is not the first occasion European clubs and nations have encouraged children to attend matches behind closed doors, but critics have questioned if this will resolve the growing problem of racism in football.

A spokesperson from Romanian Football Federation told Euronews that fighting xenophobia and racism "cannot be done alone".

"We need all support from the public authorities and also from the civil society and organisations that are involved in the domain."

Octav Ganea via REUTERS ROMANIA

The match between Romania and Norway finished 1-1.

The result means Romania remain third in Group F on 14 points, behind Spain and Sweden, with Norway one place behind on 11 points.

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