Hungary 0–4 England: Three Lions’ response to racist abuse was perfect


Having already won three games out of three in their qualifying campaign for next year’s World Cup, England continued their march towards Qatar on Thursday night when they took on Hungary. 

The evening began with the depressing – but sadly predictable – sight of Gareth Southgate’s men being loudly booed by the majority of the 60,000 spectators in the Puskas Arena when they collectively took a knee in a stand against racism before kick-off.

UEFA have already ordered Hungary to play three home matches behind closed doors as a result of “discriminatory behaviour” by supporters at Euro 2020 – and similar sanctions must surely be imposed by FIFA after some truly disgraceful behaviour from the country’s supporters against England.

After a relatively lifeless first-half finished goalless, the Three Lions stepped up their intensity in the second period, taking a deserved lead through Raheem Sterling on 55 minutes. The Manchester City man capped off a fine team move by cooly slotting home from a Mason Mount cutback.

Sterling marked his strike by paying tribute to a friend who had recently passed away with a message under his shirt. Unfortunately, this poignant moment was quickly ruined by Hungarian supporters who pelted him with cups and other debris as he stood close to the corner flag.



Regrettably, it was clear that this disgusting conduct was racially motivated. Sterling’s England teammates were having none of it, though, quickly forming a protective ring around their goalscorer as they celebrated with him.

Declan Rice and Jack Grealish went one step further in their defiance, however. The duo each scooped up one of the cups which had been hurled from the stands and pretended to drink from them, before smiling back at the Hungarian support. Their fabulous response can be seen below.

If sections of the home support were hoping to knock England off their stride with their hateful actions, then they failed…spectacularly!

Captain Harry Kane soon doubled England’s advantage with a flying header. Harry Maguire then added a third, before Rice himself put the icing on a 4-0 victory for the visitors late on.

As the score mounted up, so – unfortunately – did the abuse. Racist noises and gestures were widespread behind the goal that England were attacking in the second-half. 18-year-old Jude Bellingham was subjected to similar taunts as he prepared to come on as a substitute.

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The Borussia Dortmund youngster was praised for his mature reaction to the situation in Southgate’s post-match press conference while condemning the “unacceptable” chants.

As a team, England handled the situation admirably, shrugging off the vitriol of the crowd to blast through Hungary. Even a flare thrown from the stands didn’t faze them – as they celebrated a goal in front of it.

Not only was Thursday evening’s result a victory for England, it was also an important stand in the fight against racism. There’s no place for this sort of behaviour in football – or anywhere else for that matter.

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