England players to defy abuse and take the knee in Hungary
The players are anticipating abuse from the home support
England players will defy whatever abuse comes their way in Hungary tonight by taking the knee ahead of kick-off, as they did throughout Euro 2020 and every Premier League game this season so far.
Hungarian fans were the subject of much controversy during the Euros in the summer, with their hardcore support known for its right-wing leanings.
There were protests during the tournament in the face of Hungary's oppressive laws against the LGTB+ community, and the nation's football fans have been handed a three match stadium ban for its repeated 'discriminatory behaviour' at the tournament.
However, that ban does not apply to World Cup qualifiers for some bizarre reason, so England's game tonight will be played in front of a packed out stadium.
Speaking ahead of the game, England's player of the year Kalvin Phillips told reports the players would continue to make the anti-racist gesture of kneeling before kick-off, in spite of the negative response it is likely to get at the Ferenc Puskas Stadium.
"I obviously know about the situation and how it’s been over there but it’s not happened yet so I can't really say anything on that," he said.
"I just know that us as a group know we’ll carry on taking the knee because it’s important for us, important for our country and to fight racial abuse."
The game will be England's first away fixture in front of fans in almost two years due to the coronavirus pandemic, and sour memories of England's trip to Bulgaria will linger in the players' minds.
That 6-0 win in 2019 was tarnished by audible racist abuse from the stands which reached the point of touchline discussions about abandoning the game.
Manager Gareth Southgate did not give a definitive answer as to whether his players will walk off the pitch in the face of abuse, saying: "I don't think we should speak hypothetically."
"We know the experience we had before [in Bulgaria] but we're going into Hungary preparing for a game against a crowd that will get behind their team.
"We're looking forward to the challenge of the match and everything else is speculation really."