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England players booed by Hungarian fans as they took a knee before the Nations League opener in Budapest | football news

England’s players were booed by Hungarian fans – mostly children – as they took their knees ahead of the Nations League opener in Budapest, despite racist slurs from the stands forcing the hosts to play the game behind closed doors.

UEFA imposed a spectator ban following previous behavior by Hungarian fans during Euro 2020 matches played in the country last summer, while FIFA handed down a separate penalty after England were racially abused during their 4-0 World Cup qualifier in September .

However, on Saturday night more than 30,000 – mostly school children – were allowed into the Puskas Arena for the Nations League match as UEFA rules allow an unlimited number of U14 players to attend games behind closed doors.

Both countries’ national anthems were respected as the players took to the pitch, but jeers seemed to be heard from the crowd as England took a knee before kick-off on their first visit to the stadium since racist abuse last year.

However, UEFA will not punish Hungary for booing the kneeling as it is not against their rules.

Reporting from the Puskas Arena, Sky sports news’ Senior reporter Rob Dorsett said: “It was an incredibly noisy environment and all eyes were on the crowd as England got on their knees and the booing from thousands of school children inside the stadium was very, very evident.

“It was an odd noise actually because these are all U14s so it was a higher pitched noise than what we’re used to when we hear boos. But it was a very clear boo from the vast majority of people in the stadium.

“It’s important to emphasize that it’s not against UEFA rules. Don’t expect that UEFA will continue to punish the Hungarian FA, but I think they will support the feeling expressed by many people in football that the image of a stadium two-thirds full for a game that should have none as punishment for past racial slurs is distasteful and doesn’t send the right message.

“There is another concern that these are young players. They didn’t like the gesture of the English players getting on their knees and they didn’t approve of it.”

England manager Gareth Southgate said he was “surprised” that so many spectators were allowed to attend
on the eve of the game, with around 3,000 spectators expected to attend the English Nations League match against Italy at Molineux later in the month, as the Football Association serves its stadium ban for a game over problems ahead of the Euro 2020 final defeat at Wembley last summer.

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