Football chiefs investigate alleged racist abuse at Hungary v England match

·3-min read

World football’s governing body Fifa launched an investigation on Friday into alleged racist abuse of England’s black players during their 2022 World Cup qualifying match in Budapest.

The England team was booed when they took a knee before the match on Thursday night at the Puskas Arena to protest against racism.

In the second half, Raheem Sterling was pelted with paper cups and bottles when he opened the scoring for the visitors after 55 minutes.

The Manchester City striker requited the attack by setting up skipper Harry Kane for England’s second goal eight minutes later.

Harry Maguire headed home Luke Shaw’s corner for 3-0 after 69 minutes and Declan Rice added the gloss three minutes from time.

Complaints

An array of England players highlighted the abuse during interviews with the media following the match and the country’s football association urged Fifa to look into the complaints.

And the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, increased pressure on the World Cup organisers on Friday.

“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,” Johnson tweeted.

Fifa said it was awaiting reports from match officials before deciding on further action.

"Fifa strongly rejects any form of racism and violence and has a very clear zero tolerance stance for such behaviour in football," a Fifa statement added.

Following incidents during last summer’s European championships, Uefa - European football’s governing body -ordered Hungary to play three of its home games behind closed doors for European competitions.

The Hungarian Football Federation (MLSZ) said it was trying to identify fans who threw missiles onto the pitch.

"The vast majority of the 60,000 fans present in the Puskás Aréna supported the teams in a sporting manner, cheering on the Hungarian national team even when the team was already losing.

"It is in their defence that the minority of disruptive ticket-holders need to be identified and severely punished."

Supremacy

England’s victory took them to 12 points from four games in Group I. On Sunday they play Andorra at Wembley before taking on second-placed Poland in Warsaw on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, Italy - the team that beat England in the final of the European championships in July - dropped their first points of the qualifying campaign with a 1-1 draw against Bulgaria in Florence.

Federico Chiesa scored the opener in the 16th minute but Roberto Mancini’s men failed to build on the advantage.

The hosts were pegged back just before half-time. On a rare foray forward, Kiril Despedov set up Atanas Iliviev.

Despite dominating possession in the second-half, Italy failed to break down the obdurate Bulgarian rearguard who earned a surprise point to leave them with them with two points from their four games in Group C.

The Italians lead the pool with 10 points from their four matches. Switzerland, who have played twice, boast six points and host Italy on Sunday in Basel.

Sweden lead Group B with nine points from three games. They came from behind to beat Spain 2-1.

Romelu Lukaku bagged a brace in Belgium’s 5-2 romp past Estonia to main their grip over Group E and Hansi Flick’s first game in charge of the Germany national side ended in a 2-0 victory in Liechtenstein.

Timo Werner and Jamal Musiala were on the scoresheet for Germany who leapfrogged North Macedonia into second place in Group J after they drew 0-0 with Armenia who lead the group with 10 points.

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