Poland/England – Some footballers have been known to roll around on the ground screaming in pain when an opponent has only inadvertently grazed them, but in the England team they prefer to cry racism.
Previous case in Budapest in early September
On 2 September, during a match between Hungary and England at Budapest’s Puskás Stadium, Hungarian fans booed the English players when they took the knee at the start of the match for the traditional racial repentance ritual observed by some teams. Many see this as a political gesture in support of the Black American Marxist movement Black Lives Matter. This rather banal affair in a stadium caused cries of outrage in London, where Boris Johnson felt compelled to publish an inflammatory tweet, saying:
“It is completely unacceptable that England players were racially abused in Hungary.” And as, according to the British media, “there were reports of monkey chants aimed at black players in the closing stages – although these were not clearly audible from the media seats”,
Johnson called on FIFA to take “strong action against those responsible to ensure that this kind of disgraceful behaviour is eradicated from the game for good”.
Johnson’s reaction led Hungarian historian Mária Schmidt to respond in a very strongly-worded open letter to the British Prime Minister.
Small scuffle at end of first half
On Wednesday 8 September, less than a week after the Budapest incident, a World Cup qualifier between England and Poland took place in Warsaw. Again, the England team were booed by the crowd when they took the knee. Then, at the end of the first half, a row emerged between the two teams. First there was pushing between Poland’s Kamil Glik and England’s Kyle Walker, then Poland’s Tymoteusz Puchacz and England’s Harry Maguire and Jack Grealish got involved. In the end, Glik and Maguire were both shown yellow cards. It was a deplorable scene in terms of sportsmanship, but one that is unfortunately commonplace in stadiums when the pressure is on between two teams.
Poles deny accusations of racism
However, after the match, the English players accused Kamil Glik of having made racist remarks about Kyle Walker, which the Polish player formally denies:
“It was ordinary on-field jostling. It all started with a free-kick for us. There was a fight for position, a scuffle. I tried to shake Walker’s hand, but he wouldn’t take it. It was a verbal scuffle, nothing else happened.”
Polish football league spokesman Jakub Kwiatkowski sums up the situation as follows:
“During half-time, the English started telling the referee that our players had insulted them in a racist way. They started pressuring the referee, they made a fuss. Their reaction was clearly over the top. Yes, everyone saw that there was a shoving match, a small fight, but there were no racist remarks.”
Kwiatkowski said the Polish players had been reminded before the game that they had to be very careful because “the English are looking for the slightest clash to go to the referee”. “We don’t have any racist people in the team,” Kwiatkowski insisted.
The head of the Polish Football Association, former footballer and coach Zbigniew Boniek, reacted sharply to the English accusations on Twitter:
“First they kneel and then Walker looks disdainfully at Kamil Glik and won’t reach out to him. This is total hypocrisy. ”
However, at the request of the England team, which seems to have had a hard time coping with its 1-1 draw with Poland after an uninterrupted winning streak, “FIFA is in the process of analysing the official match reports of the FIFA World Cup qualifier match between Poland and England.”