A crowd of young Hungarians let the soccer stars of England know how they felt about the team’s decision to kneel to protest racism before every game.
England’s national team began kneeling last year to mark the death of George Floyd in 2020, and they have kept up the gesture.
But on Saturday, the team received a reception that players did not expect when it played in Budapest, Hungary, according to The Washington Post.
The game’s conditions were odd to begin with. As a punishment for what were ruled to be anti-gay banners, homophobic crowd behavior and racial abuse towards opposing players, Hungary had been ordered to play without fans. However, in the end, children under 14 were allowed in, with one adult for every 10 kids.
Gareth Southgate, England’s coach, said he could not understand the response.
“I have no idea why people would choose to boo that gesture, and very often young people can’t know why they’re doing it, so they’re being influenced by older adults — everyone knows what we believe and what we stand for,” Southgate said.
“What I would say is, I hear that still in our stadiums as well. That’s why we do it and continue to take that stand, and we will keep doing that as a team,” he said.
Southgate said the response was a surprise.
“The atmosphere when we arrived at the stadium, there were kids lining the streets, it was really friendly. They were waving when we were walking out to warm up. I thought there were sort of pantomime boos when our team came out to warm up,” he said.
Southgate sought to pass off the boos as kids imitating adults.
“That was different with the taking of the knee, but that felt like inherited thinking to me. We do it (taking the knee) to try to educate, and I think young people can only be influenced by older people.”
Southgate also questioned the decision to allow fans in the stadium.
England lost, 1-0.