England players were the target of racist insults from the stands during their World Cup qualifier against Hungary in Budapest on Thursday night – after fears the match could be halted if it was marred by ugly scenes.
Both Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham were the subject of monkey chants in the second half directed behind goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi’s goal from home support.
Sterling and his team-mates were also pelted with plastic cups after the Manchester City striker celebrated his opening game at the Ferenc Puskas stadium in the second half.
Raheem Sterling was subjected to racist chants from Hungarian support on Thursday night
The England striker was also pelted with cups of beer as he celebrated his strike in the second half
The match had been ‘red-listed’ by FIFA due to a high risk of racial and homophobic abuse following behavior by Hungarian supporters during their Euro 2020 campaign this summer, which saw the team receive a three-match stadium ban from UEFA after incidents against France and Portugal.
The ban’s third match will be suspended for a two-year trial period, with Hungary also being ordered to display a banner promoting equality in future matches.
In addition, the Hungarian Football Association was fined £85,500 for the number of violations committed by fans.
However, Hungary was able to play against the Three Lions in front of 67,000 spectators at the Ferenc Puskas Stadium in Budapest as they played in a FIFA competition.
England fans were the victims of racist abuse during their World Cup qualifier against Hungary at the Ferenc Puskas Stadium in Budapest on Thursday evening.
England were adamant they would kneel before the match, despite a torrent of abuse from the home crowd
It is not the first time that English players have been racially abused in connection with an international match. The team famously threatened to walk off the field in a clash against Montenegro in 2019 after persistent chanting aimed at Raheem Sterling and Danny Rose.
And following their final Euro 2020 defeat to Italy on penalties, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka all received racist messages on social media after missing crucial kicks.
Officials from the organizers were on hand in Budapest to film incidents of racial abuse and to see if supporters booed England on the knee. The crowd had booed the Republic of Ireland players for the anti-racism gesture in June.
That opposition was supported by the country’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, who argued that Hungarian culture should be accepted and warned others not to “provoke” fans by kneeling.
England duo Jadon Sancho (L) and Marcus Rashford (R) were among the players targeted by vicious messages after missing penalties in the final of the Euro 2020 loss to Italy
Republic of Ireland players were mistreated when they collapsed in Hungary in June
In a speech after Hungarian fans abused Irish players who were on their knees, Orban said: “When you are a guest in a country, understand its culture and don’t provoke it,” Orban told a news conference the day after the game. Press conference.
“Don’t provoke the host… We can only see this gestural system from our cultural point of view as incomprehensible, as provocation.”
“The fans reacted the way provoked people usually react to provocation. They don’t always choose the most elegant form (of reaction) but we have to understand their reasons… I agree with the fans.’
England were adamant that they would still continue taking the knee – just as they had during Euro 2020 – despite a barrage of abuse.
Central midfielder, Kalvin Phillips, told reporters that the players “will remain on their knees because it is important for us, important for our country and to fight racist abuse”.
The Fare Network, which campaigns against discrimination in European football, feared the match would be canceled if there were repeats of incidents that have marred Hungary’s recent home games – with FIFA having a three-step protocol before the match was abolished.
Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban defended fans who booed the knee and warned others not to ‘provoke’ them by making the anti-racism gesture
England boss Gareth Southgate has been steadfast in his stance against racism and his belief that the team must continue to take a stand
‘Everyone of Ronaldo and French players was mistreated’ [during Euro 2020 matches in Budapest], homophobic and monkeys sang to French players and that all led to UEFA ban [fans] for three matches,” said Piara Powar, the chief executive of the Fare Network, which FIFA has appointed to monitor fan behavior at matches.
“There’s an ominous mix of politics and a very diverse team from England who like to put their minds first. They are very clear that they stand for positive and inclusive values and taking the knee is part of that.
“If there’s the kind of racism we saw during the European Championship, there’s a good chance the game can be stopped. Absolute.’
England boss Gareth Southgate said his players were “prepared” for the possibility of racial abuse during the match, but pointed out that there had also been incidents of verbal attacks on home soil.
“We always prepare the team for anything,” England manager Gareth Southgate said today. “We did that this week. We know we’ve had our own problems at home, so we don’t focus on other countries.”