The clash between Hungary and England last night saw the rearing of the ugly head that is racist and homophobic chants directed at the Three Lions. The away team ran out 4-0 winners but the result has long been overshadowed by the incidents purported by the home support. throughout the entirety of the game. The culture of hate that has gripped football right now seems like an inescapable one.
— The FA (@FA) September 2, 2021
After the match, the English players and Gareth Southgate all took time to call out sections of the fans engaged in this sort of behaviour, while FIFA has pledged to take action against the guilty party. This is nothing new for either party with Hungary being notorious for this targeting of players which has needed football’s organizations to step in.
NO REAL SURPRISE
Hungary as a country has a long history of being increasingly intolerant of people of colour and LGBT rights. Their president Viktor Orban is considered one of the most repressive world leaders when it comes to these areas so visiting teams are well aware of what to expect. That fact was evident enough during Euro 2020 with supporters and ultras hurling racist slurs and monkey chants at Portugal and France.
UEFA are investigating the alleged incidents of homophobia and racism during Hungary games at the #Euro2020
— Sky Sports (@SkySports) June 20, 2021
UEFA punished the nation by ordering it to play its next two games behind closed doors, which however was for competitions overseen by the European governing body. Last night’s World Cup Qualifier came under FIFA jurisdiction which meant that most of the 60,000 full-capacity crowd were free of any reins.
waves of athlete and sponsor activism persisting beyond #EURO2020 in Hungary, as Seb Vettel wears rainbow shoes and @LewisHamilton issues statement in support of #LGBTQ people in Hungary in response to Viktor Orban’s homophobic law changes ahead of Budapest Grand Prix. pic.twitter.com/uaqca3Pl8R
— Adam Crafton (@AdamCrafton_) July 29, 2021
Before kickoff, the fans had loudly cheered and booed the Three Lions as they took the knee, which has been the case back home for them from some sections. Raheem Sterling was pelted with cups after he opened the scoring and was subjected to disgraceful chants every time he touched the ball.
Sterling pelted with drinks after scoring pic.twitter.com/sGujtdhIU9
— Sam Cunningham (@samcunningham) September 2, 2021
Furthermore, a flare was also chucked onto the pitch after Harry Maguire scored the third goal on the night. The abuse was not only confined to players playing with Jude Bellingham also being racially marked while going through his warm-ups.
Thank you for all the messages of support from last night. Part of the game and always will be until proper punishments are put in place by those with the power. We can’t let hate win, keep smiling!😁❤️ pic.twitter.com/nP3zarQBQk
— Jude Bellingham (@BellinghamJude) September 3, 2021
Harry Kane was the subject of anti-Semitic chants as he finished his post-match interviews while the rest of the players spoke of how some tough sanctions need to be taken in order to eliminate this part of the game.
ALL EYES ON FIFA
The governing body stated that it will take “adequate actions” after it receives the match reports from its officials inside the stadium. However, the fact that this is the umpteenth time a country like this has done such a kind of act shows how little faith the general public has in them.
The racist abuse of #england players tonight in Hungary was overt and distressing. I saw 4 separate individuals directing monkey chants towards Sterling and Bellingham, but I heard many more instances. UEFA/FIFA must act. There is a pattern of racist abuse in this 2yr old stadium
— Rob Dorsett (@RobDorsettSky) September 2, 2021
Indeed, the strongest punishments have been stadium bans and/or fines which of course does not matter in the long run. There have been calls for ‘tournament bans’ against these nations with there being a consensus in the footballing community that racism has no place.
We are appalled by the actions of some Hungary fans this evening. Racist abuse is not welcome in our game and we stand proudly in support of the England team.
We urge FIFA to investigate this matter urgently. Steps must be taken to ensure scenes like this are not repeated.
— Kick It Out (@kickitout) September 2, 2021
However, that looks like a pipe dream since Orban and FIFA share a close relationship with the latter giving more matches to Hungary as the former revamps their footballing landscape. The FA and England players took to social media to urge FIFA and UEFA as well to take stricter measures in order to deter such behaviour in future matches which will be easier said than done.
So proud of the players tonight 🏴 representing our country with class. These fans need to be banned for life. They are such a disgrace and non of our players should have to be put into these types of environments when doing they’re job.Hostile is one thing but this 😡 #England pic.twitter.com/7P3P6XobCs
— Lianne Sanderson (@liannesanderson) September 2, 2021
There was the presence of two ‘anti-discrimination’ experts whose testimony and input will be crucial in determining what kind of steps FIFA takes.
NO WIGGLE ROOM LEFT
Given how much the world as a whole has been made aware of racial injustices and homophobic comments in recent times, it will be tough for FIFA to pronounce one of its standard fines.
Chief executive of Kick it Out, Tony Burnett, criticises FIFA and UEFA after England players were racially abused in Hungary last night pic.twitter.com/nCcPxDxSii
— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) September 3, 2021
Furthermore, even Hungary’s manager Marco Rossi spoke pre-match about how he will side with the English players if there was to be instances of racism and abuse. The Hungarian FA also spoke about how they will punish sections of fans for their unruly behaviour while stopping short of explicitly condoning the chants aimed at the Three Lions.
#ShowRacismtheRedCard applaud the @England team for #TaketheKnee in tonights #EngvHun game.
Disgraceful #racism from some #Hungary fans.
What action will #FIFA take?#EnoughIsEnough pic.twitter.com/vF4WfmUbGm
— Show Racism the Red Card (@SRTRC_England) September 2, 2021
It is unlikely that there will be large if any actions taken by the football federation itself for this aspect. Southgate spoke of his immense frustration at these kinds of supporters, comparing them to some sections of England fans as well. Still, there has been a lot of talk without some stern judgements from the bodies and people that really matter. So, the entire footballing community will be keenly watching what steps are taken next.