Midfielder Mason Mount has described England’s players being repeatedly racially abused at games as “a disgrace” and wants football’s authorities to ensure it is stamped out of the game, informs the Inews.
Fifa has launched an investigation after Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham were subjected to monkey chants and gestures during England’s 4-0 victory against Hungary in Budapest on Thursday evening. England’s players were pelted with plastic cups and other objects. They also had a lit flare thrown at them.
Remarkably, Hungary’s supporters were able to racially abuse England’s players despite currently serving a two-game stadium ban, because that punishment was issued by Uefa and the game was a Fifa World Cup qualifier. Football’s world governing body do not recognise Uefa sanctions in their competitions.
It was not the first time England’s players have been racially abused by fans during games. Two years ago, a Euro 2020 qualifying match against Bulgaria was twice halted by the referee and was almost abandoned due to monkey chants and Nazi salutes from Bulgarian supporters.
Bulgaria were ordered to play two home games without fans – one suspended – and their Football Association was fined £65,000 by Uefa.
“We have had it in the past and it is a disgrace how it keeps on happening,” Mount, who played the entire game in Hungary, said. “When these things happen consequences need to take place and the FA will be speaking to Fifa about it and hopefully it keeps getting put to them and they hand out bans, but it needs to stop and we need to get this out of football.”
Fifa said in a statement: “Fifa strongly rejects any form of racism and violence and has a very clear zero tolerance stance for such behaviour in football. Fifa will take adequate actions as soon as it receives match reports concerning the Hungary-England game.
“With regards to the previous Uefa sanction against Hungary, please note that as specified by Uefa at the time, this sanction is to be served in Uefa competitions.”
This would suggest that Fifa will consider this a “first offence” – despite it clearly not being a first offence – and that Hungary will likely face punishment of reduced capacity at their next home game and a fine.
Uefa was, however, managing the fixture – as it was a European World Cup qualifier – but confirmed they would take no action. “Uefa strongly condemns any discriminatory/racist behaviour and we will continue to lead the fight against racism and discrimination in the game,” they said in a statement. “The alleged incidents happened in a Fifa competition and do therefore not fall under the jurisdiction of our disciplinary bodies.”
The Professional Footballers’ Association, who represent footballers who play in England, called for strong action to be taken. “We demand they issue the strongest sanctions possible, such as lifetime stadium bans,” they said in a statement. “Global football governing bodies need to demonstrate that these behaviours will never be tolerated in our game.
“Stopping racist abuse at matches must be at the top of their agenda, and loopholes that allow already-sanctioned racist fans to attend games must be closed.
“Footballers have the right to play the game without being abused. Stadiums are their place of work, and all football stakeholders must work together to protect them from racist discrimination.”
England manager Gareth Southgate said it is the responsibility of the game’s governing bodies to take action and that his players – who continue to take a knee before kick off as a gesture against racism and inequality – do all they can.
“I have to concentrate on what I can control and what I can control is the messages that I deliver, the messages that the players deliver and the way that the players represent England and the diversity of our country,” Southgate said.
Other things have to be taken on by the authorities and people in positions of influence and power. I don’t think we can do any more than we can do. I don’t know what the right sanctions are. That’s for other people to debate and digest. I think we just have to make sure we set the right example and that we look after players as best we can.”