Stephen Kenny: Republic of Eire boss condemns booing of gamers for taking knee in Hungary pleasant

All the Republic’s players took a knee before Tuesday’s game in Budapest

Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny condemned the spectators who booed his players as they took a knee in Tuesday’s 0-0 friendly draw in Hungary.

The Irish players showed their support for football’s anti-racism campaign in Budapest but the gesture was not well received by many in the 7,396 crowd.

Kenny said the jeers did not augur well for Hungary ahead of their Euro 2020 finals campaign.

“The fact it was booed is incomprehensible,” said the Irish boss.

Hungary’s Euro 2020 campaign starts against Portugal in Budapest next Tuesday.

“It must be damaging for Hungary, with the Euros in Hungary. It’s disappointing and it doesn’t reflect well on Hungary, really, on Hungarian support.”

Chiedozie Ogbene of Republic of Ireland is challenged by Szabolcs Schon after being introduced
Rotherham’s Chiedozie Ogbene became the first African-born player to earn a senior Republic cap when he was introduced late in the game

Republic side had three black players

Kenny’s starting line-up included young black players Gavin Bazunu and Adam Idah while Rotherham winger Chiedozie Ogbene became the first African-born player to earn a senior Republic cap when he was introduced late in the game.

“I think it was the right decision [for the players to take a knee],” added Kenny.

“I approached [the Football Association of Ireland’s international operations manager] Barry Gleeson and said it was something we wanted to do, take the knee, and I think it’s a very important message.

“Our players wanted to do it. It’s important. It’s an important stance and I commend them for taking that stance.”

Norwich frontman Idah also expressed his disappointment at the boos.

He said: “Obviously, it’s disappointing to see the fans and the whole stadium booing us taking the knee.

“It’s for a good cause, trying to stop racism. It’s a sign to kick racism out of society and the reaction was very disappointing to be honest. We weren’t expecting that.”

Some England fans booed their own team

The incident in Hungary came after some England fans booed their own team as they took a knee ahead of their warm-up games against Austria and Romania.

If there was disappointment within the Ireland camp at what transpired before the kick-off, Banunu, Idah, Ogbene and their team-mates not let it affect them as the Irish produced a battling performance to more than hold their own against the Euro 2020 finalists.

“They’re a credit to Ireland, to the Irish football team,” said Kenny of the trio.

“They’re going to be a big part of the Irish football team and we’re very proud they’re part of our team.”

Nineteen-year-old keeper Bazunu and half-time replacement Caoimhin Kelleher, 22, both made significant contributions, denying striker Adam Szalai three times between them before the Liverpool stopper kept out Attila Szalai’s late effort to ensure they left with something to show for their efforts.

Indeed, they might have condemned Marco Rossi’s men to a first defeat in 11 games had John Egan’s early header not come back off the crossbar.

Kenny said: “Our players were excellent overall. Their commitment and sense of team was very evident.”

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