England coach Gareth Southgate said his players “made our stand as a team” after they were booed by some Hungary supporters when taking the knee in protest against racial injustice in Budapest on Saturday.
Hungary earned a shock 1-0 win in their Nations League opener on Saturday, their first over England in 60 years, but the match began with boos ringing round the stadium.
The fixture was supposed to be behind closed doors, after Hungary were disciplined by both FIFA and UEFA for repeated racist fan behaviour, but children, accompanied by an adult, were allowed to attend due to a loophole in the rules.
“The first thing about that (taking the knee) is why we do it, to try to educate people around the world,” Southgate told Channel 4.
“I have no idea why people would choose to boo the gesture. The young people can’t know why they are doing it so they are being influenced by older adults.
“The UEFA decision is for other people to decide. We have made our stand as a team, everyone knows what we believe in and stand for, it is a night where I need to focus on the football.”
UEFA declined to comment when approached by Reuters.
The youthful crowd of around 40,000 were treated to a fine display by their team, with a second-half penalty from Dominik Szoboszlai enough to earn Hungary that first win against England since the 1962 World Cup in Chile.
Southgate’s side never really got going, something the England coach could understand given when the Nations League fixture took place.
“It has been a long season,” he added. “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.
“We have to accept that we did not do enough to win the game, a draw would have been the fair outcome. 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.”