Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said his nation’s fans were provoked into a reaction when Irish players ‘took a knee’ in Budapest on Tuesday night.
The intervention comes as the capital city prepares to host Euro 2020 along with thirteen other countries, with more controversy expected at the tournament.
Orban said Hungarian players, who pointed to the ‘Respect’ badge whilst Irish players knelt on the ground, were expected to “fight standing up”.
“If you’re a guest in a country then understand its culture and don’t provoke it,” Orban said today.
“Don’t provoke the host… We can only see this gesture system from our cultural vantage point as unintelligible…as provocation.
“The fans reacted the way those who are provoked usually react…They do not always choose the most elegant form but we have to understand their reasons. I agree with the fans.”
Insisting sport “is about other things”, Orban said the “kneeling business” had no “place on the pitch” and that some countries did it because they had a history of trading slaves, unlike Hungary.
“This is a hard, serious moral burden, but every nation must carry this burden on their own,” Orban said.
“They need to sort this out themselves.”
Ireland manager Stephen Kenny had called the booing “incomprehensible”, whilst several Irish players condemned the home fans’ reaction.
England manager Gareth Southgate has made clear his team will continue to “take a knee” before matches at Euro 2020, saying his side won’t “just stick to football”.
The Black Lives Matter gesture has divided the sporting world, as fans return to stadiums where some players have continued the practise.
The Republic of Ireland's players were booed and jeered by some Hungary fans as they took a knee before kick-off in their friendly in Budapest. pic.twitter.com/15npHfKZcE
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) June 8, 2021
Until @England show us the respect that Hungary's players have shown their fans, in offering a different gesture to this divisive, BLM-inspired knee bending, I hope those turning out to watch our national team play boo, and do so with all of their might.https://t.co/DYelpDsVbC pic.twitter.com/4GIQQ9g9MV
— Darren Grimes (@darrengrimes_) June 9, 2021