Soccer fans threw cups at an England soccer player and reportedly shouted racial slurs at him.
Jamaican-born Raheem Sterling, a winger and attacking midfielder for Premier League club Manchester City and the England national team, scored the opening goal in a FIFA World Cup qualifying match in Budapest on Thursday. That move put England up 1-0. As he celebrated his goal, Sterling tore off his jersey to reveal a tribute to Steffie Gregg, saying ‘Love you forever Steffie Gregg’ in memory of his friend who was pronounced dead on Tuesday at the age of 26 from COVID-19 complications.
But instead of cheers and celebration, Sterling was hit with cups from the crowd.
According to ITV journalist Gabriel Clarke, fans also began making monkey sounds and gestures at Sterling and 18-year-old England player Jude Bellingham during the match.
Earlier in the evening, England players were booed for taking the knee. It was also not the first time Hungary supporters have booed opposition players taking the knee.
Irish players were severely abused when they made the anti-racism gesture before a friendly match in Budapest back in June.
Heading into the match, Hungary fans were already facing a two-game ban from future UEFA matches in response to discriminatory behavior at Euro 2020.
The ban did not apply to the match against England, as the World Cup qualifier fell under FIFA’s jurisdiction. That said, FIFA could take action of its own against Hungary supporters after Thursday’s incidents.
England went on to win the match 4-0 in its first international test since losing to Italy in the Euro 2020 Final in July.
Dozens of people are being investigated, and five people have been arrested for tweets about England’s Black soccer players, who missed penalty kicks in England’s 3-2 Euro Final loss to Italy back in July this summer.
Gregg, the niece of Jamaican dancehall producer Rvssian and a famous Twitch streamer with more than 36,000 followers on Instagram, reportedly died from coronavirus complications.
Rvssian wrote in a social media post: ‘I feel helpless my little Steffie. I feel I failed you and couldn’t protect you from this… COVID is REAL.’
Sterling has not commented on the incident.