Prime Minister Boris Johnson led the condemnation of racist abuse directed towards England players in Thursday night’s World Cup qualifier in Hungary and called on FIFA to act.
Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham were targeted with monkey chants during the match in Budapest, which England won 4-0.
The PM tweeted from his official account: “It is completely unacceptable that England players were racially abused in Hungary last night.
“I urge FIFA to take strong action against those responsible. To ensure that this kind of disgraceful behaviour is eradicated from the game for good.”
FIFA will be expected to open disciplinary proceedings against the Hungarian federation.
Its regulations provide for reoffenders to be deducted points, ordered to play behind closed doors and even expelled from competitions.
Hungary were given a two-match stadium ban by European football’s governing body UEFA in July after allegations of racist chanting and homophobic banners being displayed during Euro 2020 matches against France and Portugal.
It is completely unacceptable that @England players were racially abused in Hungary last night.
I urge @FIFAcom to take strong action against those responsible to ensure that this kind of disgraceful behaviour is eradicated from the game for good.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) September 3, 2021
However, the ban did not come into effect for the World Cup qualifier against England because it is a FIFA competition.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland also condemned the “deeply depressing” racism targeted at England players.
He told Sky News: “The message has to go out loud and clear from leaders in society. From all of us who have responsibility, that these young men are working, they are exemplars to the community. They inspire other young people, they represent what’s good in our society.
“That’s why we’ve just got to keep getting the message out there that racism has no space in sport. No place in our society and we should be celebrating these people not denigrating them.”
England’s players were also booed before kick-off after they took the knee as a gesture against racism.
Southgate points at ‘dinosaurs’
Gareth Southgate insists supporters who jeer the taking of the knee and aim racist abuse will be regarded as “dinosaurs”.
Euro 2020 qualifiers in Montenegro and Bulgaria were tarnished by similar racist incidents.
“We weren’t really aware of it on the bench,” Southgate said.
“It sounds like there has been some incidents. Everybody knows what we stand for as a team and that that’s completely unacceptable.
“Everything is being reported to UEFA and we have to see what happens from there.
“They (the players) recognise the world is changing. Although some people are stuck in their way of thinking and prejudices, they are going to be the dinosaurs in the end because the world is modernising.
“Hungary isn’t anywhere near as diverse in their population as our country is. It is still taking us a long, long time to get to where we need to get to and inevitably, if other countries don’t have that same level of diversity. It is probably not in their thinking in the same way as in our country.
“We’ll continue to do what we do. Continue to try set the right example for young people in our country who will be more influenced by us than people will be elsewhere.”