Gareth Southgate was perplexed as to why Hungarian children booed England players when they took the knee before the Three Lions’ shock Nations League defeat on Saturday.
Dominik Szoboszlai’s second-half penalty gave Hungary a shock 1-0 victory at the Puskas Arena.
The League A Group 3 game was supposed to be played behind closed doors as punishment for racist behaviour in the same stadium during Euro 2020 last year.
Yet children were allowed to attend the game and a crowd of 35,000 watched England’s record 22-game unbeaten run come to an end in Budapest.
There were boos when England players took the knee prior to kick-off in the same stadium where some of Southgate’s players were subjected to racist abuse during a World Cup qualifier in September.
England manager Southgate told Channel 4: “The first thing is that is why we do it [take the knee], to try to educate people around the world. I have no idea why people would choose to boo that gesture.
“I think very often, young people especially, they can’t know why they are doing it really, so they are being influenced by older adults. The UEFA decision [to allow people into the ground], that is for other people to decide.”
“I think we’ve made our stand as a team, everybody knows what we believe and what we stand for. I think tonight, I’ve got to focus on the football. When you lose, you can’t be talking too much about other areas because I think that would be a lack of responsibility for the result.”
Southgate said there could be no excuse for a substandard display from England, although he questioned referee Artur Dias’ decision to award Hungary a penalty when Reece James was adjudged to have fouled Zsolt Nagy.
“We have to accept that we did not do enough to win the game, a draw would have been the fair outcome,” he said. “We did not create too many clear-cut chances and the actual result hinged on a decision which is harsh but probably won’t be overturned.
“Once it has been given as a penalty, he probably will not overturn it. You see challenges like that in the box, Reece James puts his body between the ball and the forward makes a meal of it. Away from home sometimes you will get those calls.
“It has [been a long season], but the heat was a factor and took a lot out of the players, and we tried to refresh the team earlier than normal.
“The balance of finding out about new things and the consistency of the regular team, I have to look at whether I got that right.
“I don’t want to be too harsh on them, these are games where we need to learn from. They are bitterly disappointed because we want to keep winning matches. If we want to be a team right at the top tier of football, we need to come here and win.”
In this article