Richie McCormack
Richie McCormack

19.44 8 Jun 2021


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Republic of Ireland players were booed in Budapest as they took the knee at kick-off in their friendly with Hungary. 

When Polish referee Daniel Stefanski blew his whistle to start the international friendly, Irish players dropped to one knee in unison, adding their support to the fight against racism.

Sadly, their gesture was met with a torrent of boos from a packed Szusza Ferenc Stadion crowd.

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Hungary is ruled by far-right president Viktor Orban, who only last week openly admitted to being anti-immigrant, describing Muslim migrants as "invaders".

Budapest hosts three Euro 2020 group games, and a last-16 contest.

The anti-racism symbol has become a lightning rod for protest following the limited return of fans to English stadiums.

Ahead of England's recent friendlies with Romania and Austria, booing rang out across Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium before being drowned out by a smattering of applause.

"They're taking a knee to highlight the injustices. It's a symbolic gesture to say they stand against that," said former England striker Ian Wright during the Austria game.

"The excuses that they use as to why they're booing are disingenuous.

"The people that we're dealing with, if they can't understand now, with the amount of times the players have explained why they're doing it, you don't need to take notice of those people. They're taking the knee for the right reasons, and that's all that matters.

"They don't want to understand, but the fact is you still have to try and reach those people - you can't leave them."

And in a letter to England fans, manager Gareth Southgate wrote, "It’s clear to me that we are heading for a much more tolerant and understanding society, and I know our lads will be a big part of that.

"It might not feel like it at times, but it’s true. The awareness around inequality and the discussions on race have gone to a different level in the last 12 months alone.

"I am confident that young kids of today will grow up baffled by old attitudes and ways of thinking."

Controversy After England Players Take The Knee In Support Of Black Lives MatterCatch the full chat by pressing the Play button on this page.


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