London (AFP) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday condemned racist abuse aimed at England players during a World Cup qualifier in Budapest as “completely unacceptable”, calling on FIFA to act.
Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham were targeted with monkey chants during Thursday’s match in the Puskas Arena, which England won 4-0.
Manchester City forward Sterling scored the first goal in the convincing win but the result was overshadowed by the abuse aimed at England’s black players, including Sterling.
Missiles and a flare were also thrown onto the pitch by a hostile home crowd.
“It is completely unacceptable that @England players were racially abused in Hungary last night,” Johnson wrote on Twitter.
“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.”
European football’s governing body UEFA in July ordered Hungary to play their next three games behind closed doors, with one match suspended for two years, after finding their supporters guilty of discriminatory behaviour during Euro 2020.
However, the ban did not come into effect for the World Cup qualifier against England because it is a FIFA competition.
England’s players were also booed before kick-off in Hungary after they took the knee as a gesture against racism.
It is not the first time manager Gareth Southgate has had to deal with the fallout from racist behaviour towards his team — Euro 2020 qualifiers in Montenegro and Bulgaria were tarnished by similar incidents.
“It sounds like there has been some incidents and everybody knows what we stand for as a team and that that’s completely unacceptable,” the England boss said after the game.
“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.”
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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