England’s World Cup qualifying draw with Hungary was overshadowed by fighting between visiting supporters and the police that was sparked by a report of racism.
Just over a month after England players were subjected to racist chanting in Budapest, fights broke out between Hungary fans and police when a spectator was arrested for allegedly racially abusing a Wembley steward.
There were also unconfirmed reports that as police started to film the disorder, Hungarian ultras wearing balaclavas attacked them and tried to take their camera.
The game was not even five minutes old when the violence broke out in the away end, with large groups of Hungary fans fighting police officers who were eventually forced to retreat back into the entrance to the concourses and use batons to protect themselves.
A Metropolitan police statement, released at half-time in the game, said: “Shortly after the start of tonight’s match at Wembley, officers entered the stand to arrest a spectator for a racially aggravated public order offence following comments made towards a steward.
Hungary fans scuffling with stewards and police at Wembley pic.twitter.com/7dDei9IGWX
— Mark Ogden (@MarkOgden_) October 12, 2021
“As the officers made the arrest, minor disorder broke out involving other spectators. Order was quickly restored and there have been no further incidents at this stage.”
A Football Association statement said: “We are aware of an incident in the away section during tonight’s Fifa 2022 World Cup qualifier at Wembley Stadium. We will be investigating and will report the incident to Fifa.”
On the trouble in the Hungarian end, England manager Gareth Southgate said: “I’m only hearing this as I’m doing the interviews. I was aware of a disturbance. It sounds like it was not acceptable, but I haven’t seen the detail.”
Hungary’s fans had booed the England players as they took the knee ahead of kick-off at Wembley, with one group holding up a banner that showed a line drawn through a picture of a player taking the knee. The Hungary players remained standing, some pointing to the anti-racism badge on the sleeves of their shirts, while the England team kneeled.
A Hungarian fan holds up a banner showing a line drawn through a picture of a player taking the knee
England defender Tyrone Mings, who confirmed he had been unaware of the fighting during the game, said: “We’ve faced backlash and criticism for taking the knee and we have collectively stood passionately together. That has carried us as a squad. It doesn’t change when people hold banners or disagree.
“It’s very difficult for me to speak freely on an issue to do with the police. Every time we speak about racial abuse, it (the punishment) never seems to be quite in line with what has happened. I sincerely hope the punishment fits what has happened.”
It was evident that, throughout the match, the majority of Hungary fans gathered at the front of the away end and crowded into the front rows and the aisles, where they stood instead of sitting. The scenes were reminiscent of the final of the European Championships, when ticketless hooligans broke into Wembley.
Around 700 Hungarian fans were said to be inside the away end and it is thought most of those tickets were bought by Hungary supporters inside the UK.
Despite the violence and opposition to taking the knee, Hungary’s players went over to applaud and celebrate with their supporters at the full-time whistle.
Asked about the fighting and allegation of racism, Hungary manager Marco Rossi said: “I don’t want to comment on this situation because it’s not my task. Anything I say could be interpreted in a different way so I prefer not to comment.”
The ugly scenes came weeks after England players were racially abused in Budapest
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
The Metropolitan police had confirmed that they were to increase their presence outside Wembley on Tuesday night in a bid to combat any trouble outside the ground.
A spokesperson for the police had said: “The Met is developing a policing plan to ensure the safety of visiting fans. A number of officers will be on duty, conducting high visibility patrols around Wembley Stadium.”
But the increased police presence, together with the FA’s measures to try to protect fans and staff, evidently did not work with police and stewards clearly being attacked.
Although the initial violence calmed down, a green smoke bomb was let off when Hungary took the lead in the 25th minute.
England fans nearest the away end retaliated when John Stones equalised, which led to both sets of supporters trading insults across the covered section of seats that separated them.
Groups of home supporters had also booed the Hungary national anthem before kick-off and chanted “you racist b*******, you know what you are.”
The latest incidents of disorder were particularly unwelcome for Wembley and the FA the scenes of lawlessness at the final of the European Championships in July.
Ticketless supporters forced their way into the stadium for the final against Italy with reports of attempted theft of tickets and fans and players’ families being knocked to the ground.
Hungary were fined £158,416 and ordered to play behind closed doors by Fifa after Jude Bellingham and Raheem Sterling were subjected to racist chanting in Budapest last month. The two-match stadium ban followed sanctions already imposed on Hungary by Uefa for racist and homophobic incidents at Euro 2020.
A Fifa statement said: “The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has imposed a ban and a substantial fine on the Hungarian Football Federation (MLSZ) in relation to the racist behaviour of numerous supporters during the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying match between Hungary and England on 2 September 2021.”
England and the FA are waiting to find out whether they will face punishment for the violence that overshadowed the final of the Euros.
The possibility of a stadium ban has not been ruled out, although it is believed the FA would challenge any such sanction and want to put forward their own mitigation.
Who are the Hungary hooligans in black shirts?
By Tom Morgan
Right-wing extremists and self-proclaimed Nazi groups have been spotted at Hungary matches for decades, but Ultra hooligans have become increasingly emboldened under the state’s current hardline nationalist leaders.
Some sections of the Hungary support, pictured here in Budapest when England visited the Puskas Arena last month, wear black shirts to their matches
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
Scenes of black-shirted gangs running amok on the Wembley terraces comes just three weeks after Hungary were fined £158,416 and ordered to play behind closed doors by Fifa over abuse against Jude Bellingham and Raheem Sterling in Budapest.
That punishment came on top of a two-match stadium ban followed sanctions already imposed on Hungary by Uefa for racist and homophobic incidents at Euro 2020.
Abuse monitors say the disorder and abuse on the terraces will keep intensifying while the nation’s Far Right leadership effectively condones extremist views.
The driving force for the upturn in trouble is Hungary’s Carpathian Brigade, an umbrella group of various organised groups brought together around 12 years ago.
Their black-shirts suggest they are aligning with the 1920s paramilitary wing of the National Fascist Party, but experts claim not all fan groups who initially signed up were of Far Right leanings.
Now, however, the men who gather behind the Puskas Stadium goal are universally known for their racists chanting. They also organise demonstrations in support of the hardline politics of nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban. who has repeatedly refused to criticism them.
After the abuse of England players last month, there had been little contrite from any politician. Budapest foreign minister Peter Sziijarto even posted a video of England fans booing the Italian national anthem during the Euro 2020 final as he responded to criticism his nation is now facing.
The Carpathian Brigade caused much of the footballing outrage in the weeks after Orban passed legislation banning the promotion of homosexuality and gender change in schools.
During Hungary’s opening Euro 2020 game against Portugal, photographs emerged on social media showing group members raising banners and voicing their opposition against the gay community. There were also further demonstrations by the umbrella group outside the stadium ahead of France players taking a knee before kick-off during the second fixture. A number of French media reports alleged monkey chants were later directed at Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kanté and Kylian Mbappé. Fans had also loudly jeered Republic of Ireland players for taking the knee at a Euro 2020 warm-up game.
That was after the Hungarian football federation said it opposed "unauthorised politics” and Orban accused those performing the gesture of “provocation” and backed those booing it.
Meanwhile, during the fixture against Germany, a section of Hungary supporters were pictured displaying a homophobic banner. Uefa had declined a request to illuminate Munich’s Allianz Arena in rainbow colours for Hungary’s match against Germany on the grounds of the gesture having political context.
The anti-discrimination group Fare, which monitors matches for incidents of racism and other forms of discrimination, has repeatedly sent dossiers of evidence around their presence at games in recent years to Uefa.
Neo-Nazi leanings reportedly stretch back more than 50 years, particularly at Hungarian club Ferencvaros. “Football fan society is basically nationalist in Hungary, and we are proud of that,” a representative of the neo-Nazi group Legio Hungaria told Bellingcat in September.
Clashes with police and stewards are also nothing new. In 2013 in Bucharest, Hungarian fans clashed with Romanian riot police after a 3-0 loss. In a Euros qualifier the next year, also in Bucharest, Hungary’s ultras burst through the barriers before the game had started to attack unsuspecting Romanian fans.