The footballing world has seen plenty of change since the onset of the pandemic, but one of those changes has seen a somewhat mixed response since the return of crowds.
Last June, players began "taking the knee" before every Premier League game in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The gesture was a powerful message against racial discrimination and saw a universal buy-in from Premier League players.
The kneel began in empty stadiums, however, and fears were rife as to how crowds would react to the gesture when they finally returned to the grounds. The buy-in was not so universal from crowds, as the gesture was booed by small minorities during the final two rounds of Premier League fixtures.
Tonight's game between Hungary and Ireland was different, though, as one of the first games since last March to take place in front of a full house. The near-15,000 seater stadium in Budapest was packed out for the friendly game, and the fans made their feelings clear when the Ireland team decided to take the knee just before kick-off.
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) June 8, 2021
The volume of boos was quite horrifying to hear, but the Irish team stood strong as they took the knee. They remained in position for over half a minute, as Hungarian defender Akos Kecskes stared down the team and pointed at the "RESPECT" badge on his sleeve.
It is especially notable for Ireland in making this gesture not just in a hostile stadium, but on their own. The Hungarians did not kneel.
Hungary is currently under one of the furthest right-wing governments in all of Europe, with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's policies drawing widespread criticism from other leaders in the EU.