England players Jude Bellingham and Raheem Sterling were subjected to ‘monkey chants’ as they were racially abused during the World Cup qualifier against Hungary.
Gareth Southgate’s side were playing their World Cup qualifier in front of a full stadium in Budapest with section of the home fans subjecting the players to the racist abuse, as reported by ITV and the BBC
Sterling had opened the scoring on the night for the Three Lions in front of Hungary’s ultras – known as the Carpathian Brigade – with a series of projectile missiles launched towards the Manchester City forward and his celebrating teammates.
England manager Gareth Southgate, who had ice thrown at him by fans during his interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, said: “I’ve heard reports of racism, which I hadn’t heard during the game.
“Everyone knows what we stand for as a team, and that’s completely unacceptable. It has been reported. Our head of security has spoken to the players and taken their statement. We will deal with it in the right channels.
The FA via Getty Images)
“I believe that people have been filmed and we have to hope it’s dealt with the right way.
“The world is modernising and although some people are stuck in their ways of thinking and their prejudices, they’re going to be the dinosaurs in the end because the world is changing.”
Speaking after the match, England captain Harry Kane said: “I’ll talk to the boys. Look, we’ll have to report it. If it’s the case, then hopefully the authorities can come down strong.”
Hungary fans were involved in several contentious incidents within the stadium during this summer’s European Championships but were allowed to play in front of a full house on Thursday.
The home fans also vociferously booed the England players for taking a knee prior to kick-off, with Southgate’s players continuing to support the anti-racist gesture.
UEFA have ordered Hungary to play two matches behind closed doors after incidents within the Puskas Arena in Budapest in Euro 2020.
Hungary hosted Portugal and France in the group stages of the tournament with fans in black shirts marching against players taking the knee and supporters waving homophobic banners in the stands.
UEFA ruled in July that the Hungarian support engaged in “discriminatory behaviour” at all three group matches – including both matches in Budapest and their final group in Germany.
The sanction meant that Hungary were ordered to play two UEFA matches behind closed doors with a third suspended for two years depending on the behaviour of crowds on their return.
However, as England’s match on Thursday was a World Cup qualifier – a match under the jurisdiction of FIFA rather than UEFA – the ban did not apply for the match.
England boss Southgate said ahead of the game when asked about Hungary sanctions, he highlighted that there was also an investigation into the unsavoury scenes at Wembley for the Euro 2020 final.
Southgate said: “We still don’t know what the outcome of the investigation into our final is going to be and maybe we end up with a stadium ban.
“I understand the question and focus outside but I always feel as if we shouldn’t look elsewhere until our own house is in order.
“Whilst we are always vigilant in preparing our team for whatever they may face, all of the issues you talk about very important ones, I have always been brought up that when I’m a guest somewhere I’m respectful of that, show that due respect, and that’s as I’d want to be treated if people were travelling to our country.
“The players understand the seriousness of the matters you talking about but I think we have a long way to go ourselves before we start comment or preempt what might happen in a game somewhere else.”
When asked specifically how England players were preparing for the hostile atmosphere, he added: “We always prepare the team for everything really and we’ve done that this week.
“But we know we’ve had our own issues at home so we are not really focused on other countries, we are focused on ourselves and making sure we get our own things correct.”
But Southgate would not be drawn on if his players would walk off the field should they be on the receiving end of more discriminatory abuse.
“I don’t think we should speak hypothetically,” he said.
“We know the experience we had before, but we’re going to Hungary preparing for a game against a crowd that will get behind their team and we’re looking forward to the challenge of the match. Everything else is speculation really.”
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