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England players heavily booed for taking a knee before World Cup qualifier with Hungary in Budapest 

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England’s players were greeted by loud boos as they took a knee before their World Cup qualifier with Hungary.

Gareth Southgate‘s men confirmed they would make the anti-racism gesture in Budapest, despite expecting a back-lash from home supporters.  

Kalvin Phillips told journalists before the game that the players will ‘carry on taking the knee because it’s important for us, important for our country and to fight racial abuse’.

This is not the first time Hungary supporters have booed opposition players taking the knee. Irish players were severely abused when they made the anti-racism gesture before a friendly in Budapest in June. 

The action of fans was then enthusiastically endorsed by Hungary’s president, Victor Orban. 

Thursday’s fixture was placed on FIFA’s ‘red list’ following previous discriminatory behaviour from Hungarian fans and observers have been sent to the match to film any abuse.  

England’s players were heavily booed as they took a knee before their World Cup qualifier with Hungary

Gareth Southgate and his coaching staff also made the anti-racism gesture before kick-off

Gareth Southgate and his coaching staff also made the anti-racism gesture before kick-off

HUNGARIAN PM OBJECTS TO KNEE

The Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, made outspoken remarks endorsing fans abuse of Republic of Ireland players at an international friendly in Budapest in June.

Orban, who faces a tough election challenge from a united opposition next year, said Hungarian athletes were expected to ‘fight standing up’.

‘If you’re a guest in a country then understand its culture and do not provoke it,’ Orban told a press conference the day after the game. ‘Do not provoke the host … We can only see this gesture system from our cultural vantage point as unintelligible, as provocation.’

‘The fans reacted the way those who are provoked usually react to provocation. They do not always choose the most elegant form (of reaction) but we have to understand their reasons … I agree with the fans.’

Hungarian Prime Minister  Victor Orban

Hungarian Prime Minister  Victor Orban

Hungary also had issues during Euro 2020, with homophobic chanting at each of their group games involving France, Portugal and Germany.

They were served with a three-match stadium ban by UEFA following Euro 2020, but that does not apply to FIFA competitions, so more than 60,000 are in attendance this evening.

No English supporters were allowed to Budapest for tonight’s game. However, some England fans booed their own players in friendlies before the start of Euro 2020 while Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were racially abused online after missing their penalties in the final. 

The Fare Network provides risk assessments to FIFA on each match and it has flagged this one as a ‘red list’ fixture. As a result, FIFA has sanctioned the presence of monitors, who will file a report. 

Ahead of England’s game in Budapest, the Fare Network was concerned that the high-profile fixture may even be abandoned under the three-step protocol.

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‘Everyone from Ronaldo and French players were abused [during Euro 2020 matches in Budapest], homophobically and there was monkey chanting at French players and all of that led to UEFA banning [fans] for three matches,’ said Piara Powar, the chief executive of the Fare Network, which is appointed by FIFA to monitor fan behaviour at matches.  

‘There is a foreboding mix of politics and a very diverse England team who are very keen to put their views front and centre. They are very clear that they stand for positive and inclusive values and the taking of the knee is part of theat.’

UEFA did not take action after the booing of Irish players, but Powar expects FIFA to take a tougher line if there is widespread opposition to the anti-racism gesture this time.

‘With FIFA, if the booing is very loud…, if it is the majority of the crowd as it was against the Republic of Ireland, we would certainly advocate to FIFA that is an offence and FIFA will probably take a different approach to UEFA.’ 

Republic of Ireland players were abused when they took the knee in Hungary in June

Republic of Ireland players were abused when they took the knee in Hungary in June

England had made it clear they would continue to take a knee despite expecting abuse

England had made it clear they would continue to take a knee despite expecting abuse

‘We would definitely be advocating it is an offence and action should be taken.’

After the Ireland game, Hungarian Prime Minister Orban made outspoken remarks endorsing the fans abusive behaviour and suggesting the Irish players had ‘provoked’ their hosts.

Orban, who faces a tough election challenge from a united opposition next year, said Hungarian athletes were expected to ‘fight standing up’.

‘If you’re a guest in a country then understand its culture and do not provoke it,’ Orban told a press conference the day after the game. ‘Do not provoke the host … We can only see this gesture system from our cultural vantage point as unintelligible, as provocation.

‘The fans reacted the way those who are provoked usually react to provocation. They do not always choose the most elegant form (of reaction) but we have to understand their reasons … I agree with the fans.’ 

Thursday night’s fixture was England’s first away qualifier in front of supporters for almost two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Previously, in a Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia against Bulgaria England players suffered racist abuse from the stands, which led to warnings over the stadium PA system and almost resulted in the match being abandoned.

Hungary were ordered to play their next three home games behind closed doors after UEFA found their supporters guilty of discriminatory behaviour during Euro 2020.

Charges relating to racism and other discriminatory conduct were brought after each of Hungary’s group games against Portugal, France and Germany in June.

The third game of the ban is suspended for a probationary period of two years.

Hungary must also display a banner promoting equality at future matches.

In addition, the Hungarian Football Federation was given a £85,500 fine for the number of fan infringements.

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