Hungary should have played in empty stadium, says Ian Wright after England players suffer racist abuse

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Ian Wright (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Wire)
Ian Wright (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Wire)

Ian Wright is stunned Hungary were allowed to play against England in front of fans, given they have a stadium ban for racist and homophobic abuse hanging over them.

Jude Bellingham and Raheem Sterling appeared to be targeted for abuse by home fans on Thursday night, and there were eye-witness reports of monkey chants.

Hungary had already been ordered by UEFA to stage its next two home matches in empty stadiums after abuse by their supporters marred games in Budapest during the Euros in June.

However, they were able to play in front of a capacity 60,000 crowd last night as the World Cup qualifier fell under FIFA’s jurisdiction rather than UEFA. It means Hungary fans will not be shut out of home games until the UEFA Nations League next year.

UEFA claim they were powerless to ask FIFA to enforce a stadium ban, but it is understood world football’s governing body did have the ability to enforce it.

The inaction leaves many questions and sparked anger.

“[FIFA and UEFA] don’t care enough to do anything about it," former England and Arsenal striker Ian Wright told ITV.

 (The FA via Getty Images)
(The FA via Getty Images)

"You can’t believe that two organisations can’t get together and say they are banned. The sad thing is ... Black players will know that they are probably going to get racially abused because they are banned as it is and they are allowed back in."

Wright felt it was inevitable that England winger Sterling would be subjected to monkey chants when he went down in the penalty area during the game.

"They know they are going to get the abuse," Wright said. "It’s in their workplace this happens."

European football’s leading anti-discrimination official was startled by the lack of urgency in ensuring the original sanction applied for the match, which England won 4-0.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

"This match should have been played behind closed doors," Piara Powar, executive director of the FARE network, told The Associated Press. "It does not make sense that a set of supporters sanctioned for discrimination in the European Championship are then free to racially abuse members of the next team they play because it’s a World Cup qualifier.

"That is not a punitive sanction designed to deal with a chronic problem such as racism or homophobia. It is a pretense.”

Powar, whose FARE network gathers evidence on racism cases for UEFA, added: "We should be able to have systems in place that recognize the seriousness of this problem, take offenses seriously and ensure consistency of sanctions.

That inconsistency shows why players from English teams have been taking a knee for more than a year now. They don’t believe the authorities are doing enough to punish racism.”

Additional reporting by AP

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