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Southgate calls for protection after abuse aimed at England players

Gareth Southgate, England
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After Hungarian fans targeted two England players in a World Cup qualifier, Gareth Southgate urged FIFA to take action.

Gareth Southgate has called on FIFA to take action after fans aimed racist abuse at Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham.

Because of ‘discriminatory behavior’ by their own supporters at Euro 2020, Hungary must play their next three home games in a UEFA competition behind closed doors.

As a World Cup qualifier falls under FIFA’s jurisdiction, however, fans could attend Hungary’s showdown with England on Thursday at a packed 67,000-capacity Puskas Arena in Budapest.

The home crowd immediately set about making life difficult for England. They booed loudly as the players took a knee before kick-off and things only got worse in the second half.

After Raheem Sterling scored the first goal in the 55th-minute, fans pelted him with paper cups and bottles. They aimed missiles at the England players and threw a flare upon seeing Harry Maguire score the third goal. The match ended in a 4-0 win for the Three Lions, but it also finished with racist abuse aimed at Sterling and Bellingham.

“There’s no more this group of players or staff can do in the fight against racism,” said Southgate as per The Guardian. “Other people have got to take the right action to try and make progress.

“Our players can’t do anything more than they have done in the past two or three years in trying to get the right messages out, take the right stands, and it’s for other people to protect them. It’s for me to protect them in the main, but for the authorities to protect them as well.”

The England manager added: “They shouldn’t have to be subjected to any form of racism. There’s a balance in the crowd. As we know at home, not everybody causes problems. Tonight our anthem was really respected remarkably well.

“It’s not fair to criticize all the Hungarian fans. A lot were very generous and behaved extremely well. The individuals that are responsible need to be dealt with. I think there’s some evidence that people have been filmed and we’ve got to hope the authorities deal with that in the right way.”

The English Football Association has asked FIFA to launch an investigation.

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