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Stephen Kenny: Republic of Ireland boss brands Hungary fans who booed his players taking a knee as 'incomprehensible'

Republic of Ireland players were booed for taking a knee on Tuesday ahead of their friendly in Hungary; Stephen Kenny branded the incident as 'incomprehensible'; Chiedozie Ogbene urges UEFA to do more to combat racism

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The Republic of Ireland's players were booed and jeered by some Hungary fans as they took a knee before kick-off in their friendly in Budapest

Stephen Kenny has condemned the "incomprehensible" behaviour of a section of Hungary fans after his Republic of Ireland players were booed before the teams played out a goalless draw in Budapest.

The booing was clearly audible at the Szusza Ferenc Stadion in the Hungarian capital just before kick-off on Tuesday night after the visiting Ireland players took a knee.

Meanwhile, Hungary's players stood and pointed to their sleeves which were sporting UEFA's respect campaign logo.

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Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny says the behaviour of Hungary fans who booed his players while taking a knee is 'incomprehensible'

Budapest is a host city for Euro 2020, with Hungary beginning their campaign at home to Portugal in Group F next Tuesday.

Discussing the hostility his players felt, Kenny said: "The fact it was booed is incomprehensible really, and 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. It doesn't reflect well.

"Our players wanted to do it. It's important. It's an important stance and I commend them for taking that stance.

PA - Stephen Kenny
Image: Stephen Kenny branded the decision to boo as 'incomprehensible'

"I think it was the right decision. 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."

Ireland and Norwich forward Adam Idah added: "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."

The latest incident comes just days after England's players were booed by a section of their own fans in Middlesbrough over their decision to take a knee before fixtures against Austria and Romania.

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Highlights of the international friendly between Hungary and Republic of Ireland

Ogbene: UEFA must do more

Chiedozie Ogbene has called on UEFA to take stronger action over racism in football after he and his Ireland team-mates were booed in Hungary for taking the knee.

The 24-year-old Rotherham winger became the first African-born player to represent Ireland when he came on as a late substitute during Tuesday night's 0-0 draw.

Ogbene said: "I try not to worry about it. I just focus on ourselves. I feel like the group we have, it is diverse and everyone is together.

Chiedozie Ogbene (Getty)
Image: Chiedozie Ogbene is the first African-born player to represent Ireland

"We hope that UEFA will take stricter action and find a solution. It is a difficult task because it has been going on for many years. We won't find a result or solution overnight.

"I am so happy we continue to show how important it is to accept everyone for who they are and just educate people, and I am so proud of the team."

Asked if he had been disappointed at the manner in which the gesture was greeted, Ogbene added: "Yes, I was obviously disappointed because we all go through different stories and different histories in our lives.

"This is something that Black people have been fighting for many years, discrimination and racism. There is no place in any sport, any place.

"I was quite disappointed. It is what it is. We stayed strong and I'm so happy that we as a team took the knee to show solidarity between us all."

Ogbene was born in Nigeria, but his family moved to Cork when he was seven, and his pride at paving the way for other players to wear the green shirt was clear after his debut.

He said: "To be titled the first African-born, I'm really blessed and it's a huge honour, something that I want to inspire everyone else to, to follow their dreams.

"I have got the first taste of it and I am hungry for more. I don't want to miss this opportunity and I will do everything I can to be an option for the manager."

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