The England men’s football team have reacted with defiance after facing a hostile reception during their defeat of Hungary.
Gareth Southgate’s team convincingly beat their World Cup 2022 qualifier opponents 4-0 in Budapest.
But it followed a torrid night marked by the England players being pelted with objects and subjected to booing while taking the knee before kick-off, amid reports the home fans aimed monkey chants at Black players.
The England team took the stance against racism and discrimination throughout the summer, but faced a deafening reaction at the Puskas Arena on Thursday night. No English supporters were allowed to Budapest for the game.
The antagonism between the England players and Hungary fans intensified after forward Raheem Sterling scored the game’s opening goal. Sterling took off his shirt to reveal a message to friend Steffie Gregg, who died earlier this week aged 26.
The home fans threw bottles, cups and other objects at Sterling as he celebrated.
TV footage showed missiles aimed at Luke Shaw as the England left-back prepared to take a corner, and a flare tossed on the pitch after centre-back Harry Maguire scored.
ITV reported that some monkey chants were aimed at Sterling and substitute Jude Bellingham, 18, as he warmed up.
In the face of the hostility, two England players – Jack Grealish and Declan Rice – mocked fans after two of the goals by pretending to drink from the plastic cups hurled at them.
England captain Harry Kane did not hear the racist abuse during the win – but hopes heavy sanctions are passed down.
“I didn’t hear that,” he told ITV. “I’ll talk to the boys and see if they heard any of it.
“Look, we’ll have to report it to UEFA as the rules with it. If it’s the case then hopefully UEFA can come down strong.”
England defender John Stones echoed captain Kane’s comments.
“I personally didn’t hear it, I’ve been told about it after,” he said.
“It is so sad to think that this happens at our games and I hope UEFA and whoever needs to take care of it does and I’m sure they will.
“We stand together as a team and we will continue fighting for what we believe in as a team and what we believe is right.”
England has its own problems with racism.
Three players – Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka – were targets of online racist abuse following their penalty misses in the Euro 2020 shoot-out against Italy.
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