September 4, 2021
(Reuters) – Wales captain Gareth Bale on Saturday called for countries whose fans are repeat racism offenders to be banned from international soccer after reported abuse towards England’s Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham in Budapest on Thursday.
British broadcasters reported “monkey chants” being aimed at England’s Black players while plastic cups rained down on the players when they celebrated goals near the corner flag.
Speaking ahead of his side’s World Cup qualifier against Belarus on Sunday, the Real Madrid winger questioned the long investigations that habitually follow such incidents and demanded more immediate action.
“I don’t know the severity of what to do to but the easiest thing is … whether you ban the fans from the stadium or if they keep repeatedly doing it, which seems to be what is happening, then you ban the country from the competition,” said the 32-year-old.
“If that country keeps making these horrible gestures, then maybe the best thing to do is to get rid of them, give them a suspension and hopefully they will learn their lesson that way.”
FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings in relation to the incidents in Budapest, which have been condemned by the Professional Footballers’ Association as well as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Saturday authorities need to take steps to prevent expressions of racism at soccer matches or any other aspects of life. But he criticised the international media for saying there was a “racist and hostile” atmosphere in the Puskas Arena.
“We certainly need to take steps against certain statements, but it is nonsense to label the behaviour of sixty or seventy thousand people based on that,” Szijjarto said in a video posted in his official Facebook page.
Elsewhere England’s Mason Mount labelled the Hungarian crowd’s behaviour in the World Cup qualifier a “disgrace” but said his team had used it as motivation to score more goals and silence the home support in Thursday’s 4-0 win.
Bale added that his players would have his full backing if they chose to walk off in reaction to any racial abuse during the game against Belarus in Kazan.
After facing Belarus, Wales take on Estonia at home on Sept. 8.
(Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Bengaluru and Anita Komuves in Budapest; Editing by David Holmes)