England players booed in Hungary after taking knee

The Three Lions came through with a fine second-half display to take a comfortable win, but they faced a rough reception throughout in Budapest

England’s players received a rough reception before and during Thursday’s World Cup qualifier against Hungary, with sections of the home crowd booing the team for kneeling ahead of the game.

The Euro 2020 finalists ran out 4-0 winners in the Puskas Arena to extend their perfect start to the competition, thanks to a sublime second-half display. 

But matters on the pitch were overshadowed by a number of incidents involving fans in Budapest, including various missiles which were aimed at members of the away team. 

What happened? 

England received a taste of what was to come before kick-off, when Gareth Southgate’s charges kneeled on the pitch. 

The anti-racism gesture was not well-received, attracting fierce boos and jeers from parts of the Puskas Arena. 

The hostile atmosphere continued once the game was underway. 

Raheem Sterling, who opened the scoring for England after 55 minutes, was pelted with paper cups as he celebrated his strike, while a flare was thrown from the stands after Harry Maguire made it 3-0. 

Harry Kane and Declan Rice also got on the score-sheet, leaving England with four wins out of four in Group I to sit five points clear of nearest rivals Poland. 

After the match, Kane was unable to confirm whether or not his team-mates had received racial abuse from fans.

“I didn’t hear that. I will talk to the boys and see if they heard any of it,” he told Sky Sports 

“We will have to report it to UEFA as the rules permit. If that is the case, hopefully Uefa come down strong.”

The bigger picture

It is not the first time that Hungary’s fans have garnered negative attention in international matches. 

Ireland players received a similarly negative reaction when taking the knee prior to a previous encounter in the country, while UEFA handed Hungary a three-match supporter ban due to racist and homophobic behaviour during Euro 2020 – a sanction that is not applicable to World Cup qualifying matches as they fall under FIFA’s remit. 

“We always prepare the team for everything really,” Southgate had explained to reporters before the game when asked if his players were expecting to receive racist abuse. 

“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.”

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