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Hungary – England: Fifa investigate racist slurs against players at Puskas Arena

Objects, including a flare, were thrown onto the pitch in Budapest on Thursday

Fifa is investigating racist slurs against English players during 4-0 win against Hungary on Thursday in a World Cup qualifier in Budapest.

Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham were both targeted.

England condemns the abuse as “totally unacceptable”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged Fifa “to take strong action against those responsible to ensure that this type of shameful behavior is finally removed from the game”.

On Friday, Johnson tweeted: “It is totally unacceptable that English players were racially abused in Hungary last night.”

The world football association, Fifa, said it would “take appropriate action” once it receives reports from match officials and delegates who were present at the game.

I don’t think our players can do any more – Southgate

Although Uefa ordered Hungary to play three home games behind closed doors after fans discriminated against, fans were allowed to enter on Thursday as the game fell under Fifa’s jurisdiction.

The UEFA ban relates to racism and other discriminatory behavior that took place during Euro 2020 in June.

While the Uefa is managing World Cup qualifiers with European teams, Fifa can take action because it is their competition.

“Fifa firmly rejects all forms of racism and violence and advocates a clear zero-tolerance stance for such behavior in football,” said the global governing body of football.

Fifa and Uefa criticized for allowing fans to participate

Anti-discrimination organizations Kick It Out, Show Rassism the Red Card and Fare criticized Fifa and Uefa for their handling of Hungary’s existing ban.

“The question for us is why Fifa did not act to prevent this and why the global football system did not work together to prevent it from happening,” said Tony Burnett, CEO of Kick It Out.

“All I’ve heard so far are excuses about who should submit which documents and who should submit permission for X, Y and Z.”

Fare executive director Piara Powar said the admission of fans in Budapest is an example of the “system falling apart” as Uefa and Fifa try to deal with racism.

Powar also confirmed that The Fare Network – an organization trying to tackle inequality in football – would provide the authorities with its own report on the game, including video footage.

Ged Grebby, executive director of Show Racism the Red Card, told BBC Radio 5 Live that the English manager Gareth Southgate was right when he said England should “get their own house in order” before criticizing others for their behavior after numerous incidents of racism in the game.

Grebby also added that a “long-term education program” should be put in place to combat racism in Hungarian football.

The Association of Professional Footballers said “loopholes” that meant the game did not take place behind closed doors need to be addressed.

“The global football federations must show that these behaviors will never be tolerated in our game,” said the players’ union.

“We demand that they impose the toughest sanctions, such as life-long stadium bans.”

What happened in Budapest

England players were whistled before they knocked their knees at kick-offEngland players took their knees in Budapest on Thursday amid much ridicule

England’s players were booed as they kneeled to protest racism at the 67,000-seat Puskas Arena ahead of the game. BBC Radio 5 Live reporter Juliette Ferrington described the fan reaction as a “wall of noise”.

She also described racist chants being heard during the game and that Sterling and Bellingham were the targets of abuse.

In the second half, paper cups and bottles were thrown at Sterling when he opened the gate for England.

A torch was later thrown onto the field after Harry Maguire gave the visitors a 3-0 lead.

The Hungarian Football Association (MLSZ) said those who disrupted the game “must be identified and severely punished” but did not provide any specific indication of discriminatory abuse.

“Fans who enter the field and throw light grenades and glasses will be identified. The MLSZ has filed a complaint against them or will file a complaint,” said the MLSZ.

“Any fine is passed on to the perpetrators in the civil process, and they can expect to be banned from sporting events for two years at the end of the process.”

England coach Gareth Southgate was pelted with ice by fans during his post-game interview with BBC Radio 5 Live saying he hoped the abuse was “treated the right way”.

“I heard reports of racism that I hadn’t heard during the game,” he said.

“Everyone knows what we stand for as a team and that is totally unacceptable. It was reported. Our chief of security has spoken to the players and recorded their testimony. We will deal with it through the right channels.”

“The world is modernizing, and although some people are stuck in their mindsets and prejudices, they will end up being the dinosaurs because the world is changing.”

Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto questioned English complaints about the booing in Budapest in a Facebook post that included a video of English supporters at Wembley sneering during the Italian national anthem ahead of the Euro 2020 final.

Reaction in Hungary

Nick Thorpe, BBC Central Europe correspondent

Hungarians have responded to allegations of racist abuse with a mixture of anger, shame and defiance. “Fantastic atmosphere, meltdown in the second half” was the headline in the most important sports newspaper Nemzeti Sport.

The right-wing Fidesz government has been in power for eleven years and prides itself on its open, nationalist stance. That goes down well with the fans, the Ultras, in their uniform black T-shirts. Prime Minister Viktor Orban and some of his ministers end their speeches with the football slogan “Come on, Hungary!”

“The Hungarian Football Association should complain to Fifa … that the English team is turning a sporting event into political propaganda,” said a comment on the government-affiliated Mandiner website.

But there was also disgust for the behavior, especially the throwing at Raheem Sterling.

“Don’t pretend the beloved Hungarian fans never do such a thing, we have our share of brain-dead, hate-filled idiots. Forbid them for life – if there is video or audio evidence,” another comment on the same page said .

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