Gareth Southgate pulled no punches when addressing the racist abuse from “dinosaurs” in the crowd towards the England team during Thursday’s match against Hungary.
The World Cup qualifier saw England win 4-0, but the night was marked by players being pelted with objects and subjected to booing while taking the knee, and reports home fans aimed monkey chants at Black players.
The England manager was quick to stand up for his players, noting his team “recognise the world is changing”, and then pointedly served a warning to racist fans.
Southgate said: “Although some people are stuck in their way of thinking and prejudices, they are going to be the dinosaurs in the end because the world is modernising.”
Southgate had refused to criticise Hungary supporters ahead of the game as three of his own players had been targeted at home, with Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka receiving online racist abuse after missing penalties in the Euro 2020 shoot-out loss to Italy.
He acknowledged there’s usually “a balance in the crowd”, and pointed out: “Tonight our anthem was really respected remarkably well, so it is not fair to criticise all of the Hungarian fans, a lot were generous and behaved themselves extremely well.
“It’s a very similar situation to the one we find at home, I think. The individuals found responsible need to be dealt with. I think there’s evidence people were filmed and we have got to hope that the authorities deal with that in the right way.”
With no away fans in attendance, the jeers that met England’s players taking the knee before kick-off in the now-familiar stance against racism and discrimination were deafening.
Although some people are stuck in their way of thinking and prejudices, they are going to be the dinosaurs in the end because the world is modernising.Gareth Southgate
Southgate said: “Hungary isn’t anywhere near as diverse in their population as our country is, it is still taking us a long, long time to get to where we need to get to and inevitably, if other countries don’t have that same level of diversity, it is probably not in their thinking in the same way as in our country.
“We’ll continue to do what we do, continue to try set the right example for young people in our country who will be more influenced by us than people will be elsewhere.”
He added: “I don’t think our players can do anything more than have done over the past two or three years and in trying to get right messages out, make the right stand.”
Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham were allegedly targeted by Hungary supporters within the Puskas Arena, as the crowd threw objects and even a flare at them on the pitch.
Players Jack Grealish and Declan Rice then picked up the cups and started drinking from them, mocking their abusive crowd.
Monkey chants were reported later in the game too.
Southgate told the press afterwards: “It sounds like there has been some incidents and everybody knows what we stand for as a team and that that’s completely unacceptable.
“Everything is being reported to UEFA and we have to see what happens from there.”
The manager called for the authorities to protect the players, as “they shouldn’t have to be subjected to any form of racism”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted about the racist abuse the players endured on Friday, writing: “It is completely unacceptable that England players were racially abused in Hungary last night.”
The England team also endured similar abuse during the Euro 2020 qualifiers in Montenegro and Bulgaria earlier this year.
The next two UEFA-organised matches in Hungary will not have any crowds, after the extensive racist and homophobic abuse which marred Euro 2020 fixtures.