Anti-racists have condemned the racist ‘monkey chants’ and abuse at tonight’s Hungary vs England match, and called on FIFA to take stronger action to ensure fans involved in racist abuse are not able to enter grounds.
Racist ‘monkey’ chants could be heard after Raheem Sterling scored England’s first goal in the Hungary vs England match this evening, and ITV touchline reporter Gabriel Clarke reported the same chants being directed at substitute Jude Bellingham later in the game.
Players taking the knee were met with a chorus of boos let by Hungary’s ‘Ultras’, who also pelted England players with cups after Hungary conceded. Anti racists are calling on FIFA to ban fans involved in racist abuse.
Across Britain, there was widespread support for the England team’s decision to commit to #TakeTheKnee anti racist action throughout the Euro fixtures, and widespread outrage and condemnation of the racist abuse suffered by Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka in the final. Anti racists applaud the strong anti racist stance taken by the team, which led to other teams throughout the Euros, including Germany and Scotland, to also join #TakeTheKnee, despite condemnation from prime minister Boris Johnson and home secretary Priti Patel.
Anti racists have warned of the dangers of racism and the far-right going unchallenged, and of cabinet ministers attacking those players who have taken action to challenge racism during the matches and in wider society, and point to Hungary as a case in point.
In 2018, the now Hungarian prime minister Victor Orban ran an antisemitic election campaign based on “defending Hungary” from becoming an “immigrant nation”. He said Hungary was under threat from what “George Soros’ workshops have planned for us”. He has described Muslim refugees and “invaders” and refused to obey a compensation order for Roma children harmed by segregation, stating the case was an attempt to “grab money and attack the majority”.
Far right Hungary supporters demonstrated in Munich against taking the knee and LGBT Pride. European football association UEFA conceded to homophobic pressure from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and prevented the Allianz stadium in Munich being lit up in rainbow colours in solidarity with Pride month, at the Germany V Hungary match.
In May this year, Orban was welcomed on an official visit to Downing Street by Boris Johnson.
Sabby Dhalu, Stand Up To Racism co convenor, said:
“The racist chants directed at England players tonight are a chilling reminder of what can happen when the far-right are allowed to organise within football.
“FIFA must act to ensure fans and fan groups who engage in racist abuse are not able to attend matches, and that national football associations take action against far-right groups among their supporters.”
Weyman Bennett, Stand Up To Racism co convenor, said:
“The England players along with manager Gareth Southgate have made a concerted, conscious and consistent attempt to, in the face of hostility from this racist government, be on the right side of history and insist on continuing to #TakeTheKnee. This has in turn led to other teams joining them on the pitch, on a global stage, to send a message in complete contradiction to racist division this government evokes. It has been extremely uplifting for all who want to see a world without racism and inequality, and rightly many anti racists are immensely proud of the players.
“The alarming levels of open racist abuse at tonight’s Hungary vs England match come as a warning to us. We have an anti racist majority–reflected in the majority who were appalled at the racist abuse faced by players, and outraged at the government’s role in undermining anti racism. If we fail to challenge racism, when our government are pushing a racist offensive on many fronts, Hungary stands as an example of what can happen.
“We need to keep at building a strong and vocal anti racist current on the terraces, in our workplaces and in our communities. Well done to the players who have stood up to lend their influence to this urgent task, and solidarity with them as they face vile and infuriating racism that does not reflect the majority mood.”
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