England will face Hungary at the Puskás Aréna in the World Cup qualifier in Budapest on September 2. Even though Irish players were booed when they took the knee in Hungary in June, the England team intends to continue the protest against racism this way. British journalists expressed their concern about the “racist” reaction of Hungarian fans at the press conference.
UEFA has ordered Hungary to play their next three home matches behind closed doors due to the spectators’ discriminatory behaviour at Euro 2020. Nonetheless, on Thursday, a crowd of more than 60,000 fans will be present at the Puskás Aréna since the ban only applies to UEFA matches, and this World Cup qualifier falls under FIFA jurisdiction, writes Magyar Hang. When Sky Sport News asked Gareth Southgate about the England team’s possible reaction, the manager elegantly refused to talk about any speculations and claimed that
they are looking forward to the challenge of the match and ready to face the Hungarian crowd.
Southgate also added that the game on Thursday will be crucial, considering their World Cup qualification.
Kneeling is a symbolic gesture against racial violence and abuse that has triggered controversy in more cases. In June, Irish players were booed by Hungarian spectators at Szusza Ferenc Stadium, writes Daily Mail. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán argued that this kind of action has no place on the pitch, and he suggested that the Irish team had provoked their hosts and the fans.
“If you’re a guest in a country, then understand its culture and do not provoke its residents, […] We can only see this gesture system from our cultural vantage point as unintelligible, as a provocation,” explained the Hungarian Prime Minister at a press conference.
Many fans also booed England players after they took the knee in their two Euro 2020 warm-up games against Austria and Romania. Despite the controversy, central midfielder Kalvin Phillips is hopeful and believes that they are making progress: “I just know that, as a group, we’ll carry on taking the knee because it’s important to us, important to our country, and to fight racial abuse,” told the player to ESPN.
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