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Raheem Sterling pelted with CUPS after taking shirt off to show message dedicated to friend who died

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England star Raheem Sterling was pelted with cups by angry Hungarian fans tonight after scoring and taking off his shirt to show a message dedicated to his friend who passed away this week. 

Sterling, 26, scored the opener in the World Cup qualifying win in Budapest and immediately took off his shirt, showing a message saying ‘Love you forever Steffie Gregg’ in memory of his friend who was pronounced dead on Tuesday at the age of 26. 

England ran out 4-0 winners in the Hungarian capital, in a contest which started with English players being booed after taking a knee, with the fixture placed on FIFA‘s red-list due to a high risk of racist and homophobic abuse. 

The English players were also subject to racist chanting during the game, directed at Sterling and 18-year-old England substitute Jude Bellingham when he was warming-up on the touchline.  

Gregg, who was the niece of Jamaican dancehall producer Rvssian and a famous Twitch streamer with more than 36,000 followers on Instagram, reportedly died from coronavirus complications. 

Rvissian wrote in a social media post: ‘I feel helpless my little Steffie. I feel I failed you and couldn’t protect you from this.. COVID is REAL.’

Dance Hall magazine also reported that Gregg suffered from an autoimmune disease, which then led to the complications.  

England's Raheem Sterling was pelted with cups by Hungarian fans after taking off his shirt

England’s Raheem Sterling was pelted with cups by Hungarian fans after taking off his shirt

Sterling showed a message saying 'Love you forever Steffie Gregg' in memory of his friend who was pronounced dead on Tuesday

Gregg, who was the niece of Jamaican dancehall producer Rvssian and a famous Twitch streamer with more than 36,000 followers on Instagram, reportedly died from coronavirus complications

Sterling showed a message saying ‘Love you forever Steffie Gregg’ in memory of his friend (R) who was pronounced dead on Tuesday

The England striker was also pelted with cups of beer as he celebrated his second-half strike

Sterling was pelted with cups after scoring England’s opening goal and showing the message 

There was later reports of racist chanting from the stands as the second-half progressed

There was later reports of racist chanting from the stands as the second-half progressed 

Gregg had been to watch Sterling play for Manchester City (above, May 2018)

Gregg had been to watch Sterling play for Manchester City (above, May 2018) 

Rvissian continued: ‘You don’t know until it hits home I lost you & daddy in the same week. You were one of the happiest persons ever & always had a great vibe & you lit the room up with your energy…

‘You taught my daughter adri the wine dance moves haha you guys remind me so much of each other. 

‘The hardest part was explaining to her that she will never be with you again was so hard when she cried out for you She loved you so much and looked up to you. 

‘It broke my heart …when u was a 6/7 years old me & xav & kyle (sic) use to say we would always have the shotgun ready for any of the boys who bother you. 

‘But you grew into a beautiful young lady who had all them at your feet, and we use to laugh about that together. Your mom is one of the strongest women I know & you got that from her – literal twins… 

‘I promise to take care of her for you because she lost her dad and you her daughter in one week and that can break anyone.” 

Earlier in the evening, England players were booed for taking the knee – and 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. 

England's players were booed as they took a knee before the World Cup qualifier with Hungary

England’s players were booed as they took a knee before the 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

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

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’.

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‘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

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

‘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.’ 

‘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.

Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban defended fans who booed the knee and warned others not to 'provoke' them by making the anti-racism gesture

Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban defended fans who booed the knee and warned others not to ‘provoke’ them by making the anti-racism gesture

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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