There’s an excellent article in UnHerd by Willian Nattrass explaining why Hungarian football fans boo the knee-taking of England football players. It begins:
Hungarians are celebrating today – and not just because their football team thrashed England 4-0 at Molineux last night. They also see a moral dimension in the victory, with headlines focusing on the booing of the Hungarian national anthem and chants of “you racist bastards” from England fans, after previous controversy over England ‘taking the knee’ at an away match in Budapest on June 4th.
At the Budapest game – supposed to be played behind-closed-doors due to racism from Hungarian fans at Euro 2020 – the gesture was booed by a crowd of 35,000 schoolchildren allowed to watch the game by the Hungarian FA. After heavy criticism from England manager Gareth Southgate and his players, along with widely reported comments in the British media about “brainwashed” Hungarian youth, a Hungarian Government spokesperson bullishly said “anyone who thinks that children at a football match in Budapest can be blamed for any kind of political statement is truly an idiot”
Yet the glee with which yesterday’s victory was greeted suggests Hungarians took English criticisms to heart. And while rejection of the western stance on anti-racism is becoming another key marker of Hungary’s cultural independence, this difference isn’t limited to Hungary alone. Throughout Central Europe, many football fans would side with Viktor Orbán in regarding England’s anti-racism stance as a “provocation”.
The controversy in Budapest recalled a match between Sparta Prague and Glasgow Rangers last year, when a crowd of 10,000 children booed Glen Kamara, the Rangers player whose allegations of racism saw star Czech defender Ondřej Kúdela banned from Euro 2020. A diplomatic crisis erupted after Czechs were described as “rotten fruit” by a Scottish Football Association equality and diversity advisor.