Southgate admits UK has ‘similar’ racism issue to Hungary after England stars are pelted & booed for kneeling during chaotic match

England boss Gareth Southgate insisted it is "not fair to point the finger at all Hungarian fans" after his side won a volatile World Cup qualifier in Budapest on Thursday.

The night began with loud boos as the players took the knee after Hungary agreed to join England in making the divisive gesture, which has been criticized by Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban for conflicting with his country's culture and is seen by many as a gesture with questionable underlying motives in the name of Black Lives Matter.

In front of a near-capacity stadium that did not officially include any England fans as a result of the pandemic, there were chaotic scenes after Raheem Sterling put the visitors ahead ten minutes after half-time.

England players were pelted with cups while celebrating Sterling's opener and the three further goals they added without reply before full-time, with West Ham midfielder Declan Rice – the scorer of the fourth – even daring to pick up a cup and appear to drink from it.

There were reports of racist chanting, although several England players said in their post-match interviews that they had only been learned of them when they returned to the locker room.

18-year-old England winger Jude Bellingham was said to have smiled in the face of racist abuse, while new Manchester City signing Jack Grealish pictured himself drinking from one of the cups thrown and called the atmosphere "unacceptable".

"I don't think our players can do anything more, in terms of getting the messaging out," Southgate said afterwards.

"It's up to other people now. They shouldn't be subjected to any form of racism."

Uefa have ordered Hungary to play three home games behind closed doors after supporters were found guilty of discriminatory behaviour during Euro 2020 this summer, but the ban was not in force for the match with England because it came under Fifa jurisdiction.

Southgate was keen to emphasize that the entire stadium should not have been branded as racists, speaking as familiar accusations broke out that opposing the taking of the knee is an endorsement of racism.

"It's not fair to point the finger at all Hungarian fans," reasoned Southgate. "It's similar to what we have at home."

The Three Lions coach has consistently supported the kneeling gesture, reiterating his backing for it after boos were heard at England games on home soil when it took place before matches this summer.

"They're going to be the dinosaurs in the end because the world is modernising," Southgate said of spectators who booed.

"We'll just doing keep doing what we have to do, which is setting the right example."

There had been talk of bans for fans who booed, with UK TV commentary pointing out that such a move would be an administrative headache given the number of people who appeared to be voicing their opposition while the players briefly knelt on the turf in the seconds before kick-off.

England captain Harry Kane, who headed his side's second goal, said he would "talk to the boys" about the alleged racist chants.

"We'll have to report it," he said immediately after the game. "If it's the case, then hopefully the authorities can come down strong."

The FA issued a statement saying it was "extremely disappointing" at "reports of discriminatory actions towards some of our England players."

"We will be asking Fifa to investigate the matter," it added. "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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Viktor Orban watched Hungary draw with Ireland © Bernadett Szabo / Reuters
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