The Football Association have issued a statement in response to the reports that England players suffered racist abuse against Hungary, confirming that they will request FIFA launch an investigation into the matter.
During England’s 4-0 defeat of Hungary at the Puskas Arena in Budapest on Thursday night, ITV’s Gabriel Clarke reported that goalscorer Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham, while warming up as a substitute, were the target of monkey chants.
Clarke was stationed behind the goal where the Three Lions scored all of their four second-half strikes, labelling the gestures “audible and visible”.
The FA said in response: “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.”
Both England manager Gareth Southgate and captain Harry Kane called upon football’s world governing bodies to take action against the offending Hungarian fans.
Hungary have been ordered to play three matches behind-closed-doors by UEFA, with one game suspended by two years, following instances of racist and homophobic abuse.
But the punishment did not apply to Thursday night’s World Cup qualifier with the match instead coming under FIFA jurisdiction, a ruling likely to be widely scrutinised given the events that followed.
Kane declared when quizzed on the racist chanting: “I didn’t hear that. I will talk to the boys and see if they heard any of it.
“We will have to report it to UEFA as the rules permit. If that is the case, hopefully they come down strong.”
While Southgate said: “I have heard reports of racism and we were not aware of that during the game.
“I am not sure we were particularly sensible celebrating right in front of their fans with the flare but the racism is the key part.
“We weren’t really aware of it on the bench. It sounds like there have been some incidents.
“Everyone knows what we stand for as a team and that’s completely unacceptable. Everything’s being reported to UEFA.
“We try to take a right stand, we knew taking the knee would get an adverse reaction and anything of that nature is unacceptable.”
It was not clear whether Southgate and Kane both meant FIFA instead of UEFA.
Goalscorer Sterling was loudly jeered after making it 1-0 and was also pelted by cups from the home supporters. He continued to be jeered until the final whistle.
Southgate added: “Although some people are stuck in their way of thinking and prejudices, they are going to be the dinosaurs in the end. We’ll continue to try set the right example for young people in our country.”
While John Stones insisted: “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.
“I think we definitely have the mindset of ‘let the football do the talking’ and tonight we did that.”