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Kneeling is Not Sign of Provocation but of Respect and Solidarity – Irish Embassy Responds to Orbán

Hungary Today 2021.06.14.

“Taking the knee is not a gesture of disrespect or provocation but a gesture of respect for & solidarity with those who suffer racism & discrimination,” read a statement from the Irish embassy in Hungary in reaction to recent events and statements made after last week’s friendly game.

As we reported earlier, one day after the Hungarian Football Federation (MLSZ) announced that the Hungarian national team wouldn’t kneel before kick-offs, the Irish players took the knee at the friendly played in Budapest between the two countries. This led to booing and whistling by some of the Hungarian fans, which eventually caused an uproar in Ireland, with football manager Stephen Kelly, for example, finding the gesture ‘incomprehensible.’

The Prime Minister himself then took part in the debate. At a press briefing last Thursday, Viktor Orbán accused the visiting players of “provoking” their hosts and failing to understand Hungarian culture and sided with the protesting fans.

In response to this, the Irish Embassy in Hungary emphasized that they believe taking the knee is not a gesture of disrespect or provocation but a gesture of respect for & solidarity with those who suffer racism & discrimination. They also emphasized that there is no place for racism, adding that they are proud of their players for showing respect by taking the knee.

It was American football (NFL) player, Colin Kaepernick, who started kneeling during the national anthem back in 2016, in protest of police violence against African-Americans in the US. The action gained new momentum last year after the death of George Floyd, alongside the strengthening of the Black Lives Matter movement. The gesture is, however, somewhat controversial in places like England too, where it similarly met with some criticism and booing at one of the recent warm-up friendlies.

Featured photo illustration by Tibor Illyés/MTI