Booing, throwing cups into the field, and reportedly making monkey noises towards English players were among the actions of Hungarian fans, inciting criticism after the England-Hungary World Cup qualifier. Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó responded to the critical remarks in a Facebook post.
Before the match started, English players knelt down in support of the BLM movement to which the Hungarian crowd’s response was whistling. During the game, fans also threw a firecracker into the field and reportedly made monkey noises in the direction of British players such as Jude Bellingham and Raheem Sterling. They also threw beer cups towards members of England’s team and some players responded by mimicking drinking from the cups. This happened despite the Hungarian team and head coach Marco Rossi asked fans to refrain from racist comments and behavior since that can result in fines from the UEFA or future matches being held behind closed doors.
The head coach of the English team, Gareth Southgate, while criticizing the behavior of Hungarian fans, said that “our anthem was really respected remarkably well. It’s not fair to criticize all the Hungarian fans, a lot were generous and behaved well.” He also added that “it’s similar to the situation at home. The individuals need to be dealt with, there’s evidence. People were filmed.”
However, the British Football Association has asked international federation FIFA to launch an investigation into the racist behavior displayed by Hungarian supporters. British PM Boris Johnson deemed it unacceptable that “England football team players were racially abused in Hungary.”
In response, Szijjártó published a video on Facebook taken in London’s Wembley Stadium, in which British supporters are heard whistling during Italy’s national anthem before the final of the European Championship. “Were similar remarks made at that time?” the minister asked in the post.
The Hungarian Foreign Minister also reacted to the criticism of the British Prime Minister.
“Boris Johnson and I have a friendly relationship since we were counterparts as foreign ministers for a relatively long time. Therefore it is with all due respect that I say to the prime minister that we should finally stop applying double standards in issues as serious as this.”
In his video message to Boris Johnson, Szijjártó added that”everyone could see how the English fans treated the Italian players in the Euro 2020 final,” referring to the footage he posted on Facebook. “The English fans were booing the Italian national anthem so loudly that you could hardly hear it, not to mention the insults that were flying during the match itself,” the minister said.
Hungarian football association to take legal action against misbehaving fans
Hungarian football association MLSZ also released a statement, saying: “most of the 60,000 supporters stayed sportsmanlike even when the [Hungarian] team was losing.” They said that the perpetrators were being identified and would be “strictly punished.” MLSZ said that it will file a police report and sue the perpetrators for compensation should the federation be fined. They would also be banned from sports events for two years.
FIFA pledges to take “appropriate action”
FIFA rejected all forms of racism and violence and pledged zero tolerance for such behavior. The federation also pledged to take appropriate action once they received reports on the events.
Featured photo via Péter Szijjártó’s Facebook page