England will take a knee before playing Hungary, whose coach Marco Rossi vowed to stand by any action taken by players if they are subjected to any racism in Budapest on Thursday.
The squad have discussed the issue in the build-up to the game, and were made aware of the fact that the Republic of Ireland players were loudly booed in June when they took a knee before their friendly with Hungary in the nearby Szusza Ferenc Stadion.
Hungary have been ordered to play their next three UEFA competition matches behind closed doors – with one of those games suspended for two years – following racist abuse from supporters and homophobic banners in the stands during their Euro 2020 group stage matches in Budapest.
A homophobic banner was seen in the stands during Hungary’s defeat to Portugal in their opening game at the tournament, while monkey chants were also heard during their draw with France.
But a full-capacity crowd of more than 60,000 will be present at the Puskas Arena for Thursday’s match against England as the game is being played under FIFA jurisdiction.
Hungary’s Italian coach, Marco Rossi, says he would be “on the side” of England’s players if they were to be subjected to racist abuse in Thursday’s World Cup qualifier.
Foreign journalists were asked to submit any questions for Hungary’s pre-match news conference in writing and, in response to a Sky Sports News question asking what he would say to England’s players who may fear they could face discriminatory abuse from the crowd, Rossi said he would stand with Gareth Southgate’s side.
England players, including Tyrone Mings on his debut, were abused in Bulgaria in 2019 and Rossi insisted the Three Lions squad would be supported by their hosts if there are any racial slurs from the stands in the Puskas Arena.
“I hope that we cannot face this kind of situation. What we can say is always in the past we have showed deep respect for everybody,” he said.
“I am not afraid or worried about the fact someone could have this kind of behaviour, racist behaviour, in front of the English players. I hope this does not happen.
“In case it does, we are absolutely on the side of the English players, of course.”
Hungary have scored 10 goals in their first three qualification matches but failed to get out of the group at Euro 2020. They are two points behind Group I leaders England after winning two and drawing one of their opening three games as they look to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Around 60,000 are due at the Puskas Arena, with no England fans travelling to Budapest, but Rossi denied a partisan home crowd would give the hosts the edge.
He added: “I cannot know what could be the effect on the English players, England’s players are used to playing on front of this kind of crowd. It will not be the decisive factor for the final result of the match.”
At his own pre-match news conference Southgate refused to confirm whether his side would walk off the pitch if Hungary’s fans racially abused England players during the game.
England decided to play on in Sofia in October 2019 after Bulgarian fans racially abused Southgate’s players in a Euro 2020 qualifier.
Asked whether the team would walk off if they faced racial abuse on Thursday, Southgate said: “I don’t think we should speak hypothetically.
“We know the experience we had before [in Bulgaria] but we’re going into Hungary preparing for a game against a crowd that will get behind their team.
“We’re looking forward to the challenge of the match and everything else is speculation really.”
Asked whether the players were prepared for racist abuse at the Puskas Arena, Southgate said: “We always prepare the team for everything really.
“We’ve done that this week, but also we know we’ve had our own issues at home so we’re not really focusing on other countries, we’re focusing on ourselves and making sure we get our own things correct.”
Maguire focused on Hungary challenge
Harry Maguire said the England players were fully focused on what challenges awaited them on the pitch during the game.
However, of potential racist abuse, he said: “We speak about different scenarios going into every game, not just Hungary away. To speak about something in the future and something that you’re predicting might happen is a bit unfair.
“As players we’re fully focused on going to Hungary and playing in front of a full crowd and a great atmosphere.
“It’s a team which have shown they’re more than capable at the Euros, so we’re expecting a tough test and we’re more focused on the game to try to get the three points to qualify for Qatar.”