England players subjected to vile ‘monkey chants’ at World Cup qualifier in Hungary

2 September 2021, 22:43 | Updated: 3 September 2021, 17:36

Sterling was pelted with items thrown from the crowd when celebrating the opening goal
Sterling was pelted with items thrown from the crowd when celebrating the opening goal. Picture: Alamy Live News

By Daisy Stephens

England players have been subjected to racist chants during their World Cup qualifier against Hungary.

Raheem Sterling and substitute Jude Bellingham were the targets of monkey chants and items, including a flare, were thrown onto the pitch.

Sterling today broke his social media silence after the abuse.

He tweeted a photograph of him celebrating his opening goal whilst being pelted with items from the crowd, captioned: "HEADSTRONG."

Bellingham also responded to the abuse on Twitter, thanking fans for their "support" but saying that racism was "part of the game and always will be until proper punishments are put in place by those with the power".

He added: "We can’t let hate win, keep smiling!"

Boris Johnson condemned the abuse today.

The Prime Minister said: "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."

Kick It Out chief executive Tony Burnett urged FIFA to investigate it as a matter of urgency.

"Kick It Out was appalled to see the actions of some Hungary fans," said Mr Burnett.

"We stand proudly in support of the England players and staff, who once again acted with strength, grace and integrity in the face of racism that has no place in our game or our society.

"This is not the first incident like this in Hungary, so we urge FIFA to investigate this matter urgently.

"Those responsible need to be held to account and steps need to be taken to ensure scenes like (this) are not repeated."

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The Football Association said in a statement: "It is extremely disappointing to hear reports of discriminatory actions towards some of our England players.

"We will be asking FIFA to investigate the matter.

"We continue to support the players and staff in our collective determination to highlight and tackle discrimination in all its forms."

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer congratulated England on their 4-0 win but called the racist abuse "disgusting".

"Another dominant England performance and a great result," he tweeted.

"But once again, our England team are subjected to disgusting racist abuse. Completely unacceptable behaviour.

"Strong action must be taken against Hungary to protect players and show racism has no place in football."

Hungary are to play two home matches behind closed doors, with a third game suspended, after being charged over racist and homophobic chanting at Euro 2020.

But as Thursday's match fell under FIFA's jurisdiction, a full house was allowed into a match marred by bad fan behaviour.

England defender John Stones, said he "personally didn't hear" the abuse shouted at Thursday's match, but was told afterwards.

"It is so sad to think that this happens at our games and I hope UEFA and whoever needs to take care of it does and I'm sure they will," said Mr Stones.

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"We stand together as a team and we will continue fighting for what we believe in as a team and what we believe is right."

The team were also booed when they took the knee at the start of the game.