FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Brazil and Argentina after the suspended World Cup qualifier on Sunday.

The fixture came to a halt following an alleged breach of coronavirus regulations by Argentina relating to Premier League players.

Emiliano Martinez, Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso started the match, leading to Brazilian health officials to act by entering the pitch after the game had kicked off. A melee ensued before Argentina left the field and did not return.

Brazil restricts entry to travellers from the United Kingdom if they have spent time in the country within the previous two weeks. The Selecao had attempted to call up nine players from the English top flight, but none of those selected travelled as Premier League clubs united in an agreement not to release players.

FIFA started investigations into the scenes on Monday, with world football's governing body then confirming disciplinary cases had been opened against the two national associations.

"Following the analysis of the official match reports related to the FIFA World Cup qualifier match between Brazil and Argentina, FIFA can confirm that disciplinary proceedings have been opened involving both member associations," the statement said.

"The two teams were asked to provide further information on the facts that led to the suspension of the match, which will be gathered and then thoroughly reviewed by FIFA's disciplinary committee.

"Updates will follow in due course."

The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) insisted it warned Argentina's Premier League-based quartet about the need to quarantine after Sunday's blockbuster CONMEBOL World Cup qualifier was sensationally abandoned.

The top-of-the-table fixture was halted following an apparent breach of coronavirus regulations, Argentina naming three Premier League players in their starting line-up – Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez and Tottenham pair Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso.

Brazil had called up nine Premier League stars to their side, though none of the group travelled, with top-flight English clubs given backing not to release players.

Travellers from the United Kingdom are also restricted entry to Brazil if they have spent time in the country within the previous 14 days.

Despite the rulings, Martinez, Romero and Lo Celso were all starters for Lionel Scaloni's Copa America champions Argentina, with Brazilian health officials quickly acting by entering the pitch shortly after the match had started.

A subsequent melee ensued and the visitors eventually left the field and did not return, Brazil playing out a training fixture among one another.

As FIFA investigates, CBF released a statement on Monday, providing further information following a meeting that took place at the Hotel Marriot on Saturday amid criticism from Argentina, denying it interfered.

"CBF sent representation to said meeting as a listener, at the request of the Health Surveillance of the State of Sao Paulo, where representatives of the aforementioned agency, the Ministry of Health, ANVISA, CONMEBOL and the Argentine Football Association (AFA) were gathered.

"The CBF was represented by Dr. Roberto Nishimura, operational coordinator of the special medical committee, and there was no interference on his part in relation to administrative or sanitary aspects. This meeting ended around 18:00.

"As it understands that this is not a matter of its attribution, at no time was there any manifestation by the CBF representative to the authorities regarding the health issue of the four Argentine athletes, either in the sense of releasing or vetoing their participation in the game.

"At this meeting, the representatives of the Argentine national team were informed that there was an irregularity in the entry of players, that they should be quarantined and received guidance from the authorities to request, with the competent bodies, special authorisation for the players to have their situation regularised. It was a technical discussion between ANVISA, the Ministry of Health and the Argentine Association.

"After the meeting, when the athletes' presence was requested, the Health Surveillance agents were informed that the players had left for training, not complying with the instructions given during the meeting. The agency reported the non-compliance to the National Health Surveillance Agency and the Ministry of Health, responsible for analysing the request for exceptionality forwarded by CONMEBOL on behalf of the AFA.

"All these steps are described in detail by ANVISA in an official note published on Sunday, 5, and updated this Monday, 6, as complete at the end of this.

"On Sunday, 5th, this request had an official negative response, by the Ministry of Health to CONMEBOL, and the Argentine national team was notified, directly at Neo Quimica Arena, with enough time to adopt the necessary procedures.

"As for the information that circulated about the presence of CBF's Director of Competitions, Manoel Flores, at the Argentine delegation's hotel, CBF informs that he was in fact at the hotel on Saturday, around 3:00 pm, solely to talk about operational details of the game with the atache [member of the team organising the match] who accompanied the Argentine national team, remaining in place for about 15 minutes and not having dealt with any matter related to the Argentine players. Visiting the visiting delegation's hotel is a regular routine in every gaming operation.

"The CBF further clarifies that it strictly fulfilled its institutional role as the game's host entity, informing everyone involved in the game about the health laws in force in the country in a letter sent, through the General Secretariat of the entity, on July 5th, and later resubmitted on 11 August and 2 September.

"CBF reiterates that it defends the implementation of the most rigorous health protocols and complies with them in their entirety, both in the national territory and in countries where the Brazilian team acts as a visitor.

"The CBF also emphasises that at no time, through the interim President, Ednaldo Rodrigues, or its directors, interfered in any point related to the sanitary protocol established by the Brazilian authorities for the entry of people into the country. The role of the CBF was always in an attempt to promote understanding between the entities involved so that the sanitary protocols could be fulfilled satisfactorily and the game could be played."

Wissam Ben Yedder has been called up to the France squad as Kingsley Coman struggles with a calf injury. 

Coman played just over an hour of France's 1-1 draw with Ukraine on Saturday – their fifth straight match without a victory. 

With the Bayern Munich winger a doubt to face Finland in Les Bleus' next World Cup qualifier on Tuesday, head coach Didier Deschamps decided to call up a reinforcement. 

Ben Yedder was added to the squad on Monday for France's third game in seven days. 

Deschamps confirmed Jules Kounde would miss the Finland match through suspension following his red card in last week's 1-1 draw with Bosnia-Herzegovina, while Aurelien Tchouameni and Thomas Lemar were struggling for fitness. 

The France boss called on his team to be more proactive against Finland and bring an end to their winless streak. 

"In those two matches [against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Ukraine], we were more reactive than proactive, with chances not in our favour," said Deschamps. 

"We are aware of it and tomorrow we must reverse this trend. Defence is important, too, but this is a less happy time because of the results. We know what we have to do to stay in control of our destiny. 

"The players are not happy. They cannot be satisfied with these results. We will do everything to reverse the trend.  

"I will redouble my efforts. The players are in the same state of mind, to add a little more and get what we want." 

Pele has revealed he last week underwent successful surgery to remove a tumour in his large intestine.

The Brazil legend, who won three World Cups, had previously taken to Instagram to deny claims he had fainted, posting he was "in very good health" after "routine exams".

However, Pele reportedly remained in hospital and on Monday explained why he had required medical attention.

"Last Saturday I underwent surgery to remove a suspicious lesion in the right colon," the 80-year-old wrote on his social media page.

"The tumour was identified during the tests I mentioned last week. Fortunately, I'm used to celebrating great victories alongside you.

"I will face this match with a smile on my face, a lot of optimism and joy for living surrounded by the love of my family and friends."

Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez believes his country's World Cup qualifier against Brazil was suspended due to "political reasons".

Martinez was one of three Premier League players who started Sunday's match between the South American heavyweights at the Neo Quimica Arena.

However, the match was stopped shortly after kick-off when Brazilian health officials came onto the pitch to apprehend Martinez, Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso.

The United Kingdom is a red-listed country in Brazil, restricting the entry of those who have been in the UK in the past 14 days.

Brazil had called up nine players from the Premier League for their September games, but none of the group travelled.

Anvisa, Brazil's health authority, said in a widely released statement shortly before Sunday's game: "Anvisa considers the situation a serious health risk and so has asked local health authorities to determine the immediate quarantine of the players, who are stopped from participating in any activity and should be prevented from remaining on Brazilian soil."

Argentina's players walked off the pitch and did not return, with the game called off by the referee. On Monday, FIFA opened an investigation into the matter.

Martinez is now set to return to the UK along with his Aston Villa team-mate Emiliano Buendia, who was not involved on Sunday, although they will travel via Croatia due to quarantine restrictions.

The former Arsenal keeper spoke to reporters at Ezeiza International Airport and did not hold back in his criticism of the decision.

"We all know what happened. We prepare for three days in Brazil to play the game and having it cancelled after five minutes is a bitter feeling," he said.

"We gave everything to win it and for political reasons, I don't know what happened, it was cancelled and we had to go back.

"There were rumours about those from the Premier League, who could not play the game, but they could have warned us when we arrived in Brazil, and we did not make enough trouble to cancel the game. Simple. They could have warned us before.

"It's a shame because we were going to win. We were confident, the team was doing well. We did not understand anything. We stayed for half an hour to see if we would go out to play or warm up again, and after 30 or 40 minutes, they told us we had to go."

Martinez also revealed there was a possibility he, along with the other Premier League players, would have had to remain in Brazil and in isolation for two weeks if not for the Argentine Football Association's intervention.

"There was the possibility that they would leave the four boys from England there for 14 days," Martinez said. "But Chiqui [Tapia, president of the AFA] helped us, backed us all and said 'we're all going' and we all left.

"Aston Villa did not understand the regulations of Brazil and why it happened. It is not something the world expected to see. It was something to enjoy and not to make a fool of yourself.

"The four of us decided to come for the love of the shirt; even though all of the Premier League [clubs] did not want us to come, we decided to come anyway.

"After winning the Copa America, the whole team wants to be with the group, not just give the national team a victory. It is something beautiful that we have and we accept the consequences."

FIFA has opened investigations into the suspended World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina.

The fixture was halted on Sunday after an apparent breach of coronavirus regulations, Argentina naming three Premier League players in their starting line-up.

Brazi had called up nine Premier League stars to their side, though none of the group travelled, with top-flight English clubs given backing not to release players.

Travellers from the United Kingdom are also restricted entry to Brazil if they have spent time in the country within the previous 14 days.

Despite the rulings, Emiliano Martinez, Cristian Romero and Giovanni Lo Celso were all starters for Argentina, with Brazilian health officials quickly acting by entering the pitch shortly after the match had started.

A subsequent melee ensued and the visitors eventually left the field and did not return, Brazil playing out a training fixture among one another.

While a decision is yet to be made on the outcome, football's world governing body provided an update on Monday.

"FIFA regrets the scene preceding the suspension of the match between Brazil and Argentina for the CONMEBOL qualifiers of the FIFA World Cup 2022, which prevented millions of fans from enjoying a match between two of the most important football nations in the world," a statement said.

"The first match official reports have been sent to FIFA. This information will be analysed by the competent disciplinary bodies and a decision will be taken in due course."

Lionel Scaloni said he is upset Argentina's CONMEBOL World Cup qualifier against Brazil was suspended amid farcical scenes on Sunday after Brazilian health officials stormed the pitch.

The high-profile contest at the Neo Quimica Arena in Sao Paulo, which was set to see the likes of Neymar and Lionel Messi face off in a repeat of July's Copa America final, was halted just minutes after kick-off.

Local authorities entered the field in an attempt to remove four Argentina players that had apparently breached coronavirus regulations.

Those four players in question – Premier League quartet Emiliano Martinez, Cristian Romero, Giovani Lo Celso and Emiliano Buendia – all ply their trade in England.

The United Kingdom is a red-listed country in Brazil, meaning restricted entry to the nation for those who have been in the UK in the past 14 days.

Brazil had called up nine internationals from the English top flight for their latest fixtures on the road to Qatar 2022, but none of the group travelled to their native country.

Despite having arrived in the country three days ago, ANVISA – Brazil's heath authority – demanded the Argentine quartet immediately quarantine.

But Argentina head coach Scaloni insisted his the Copa America champions were never informed the match was at risk of not being played.

"At no time were we notified that they could not play the match. We wanted to play the game, the players from Brazil too," he told reporters.

"It makes me very sad. I'm not looking for any culprits. Whether or not something happened, it was not the time to make that intervention.

"It should have been a party for everyone, to enjoy the best players in the world. I would like the people of Argentina to understand that as a coach I have to defend my players."

When the match began with the relevant Argentina players still included, health officials walked onto the pitch.

A melee broke out and the action was halted, with the entire Argentina team soon leaving the field.

Conversations continued, with the Brazil XI remaining on the pitch, while Argentina superstar Messi reappeared to speak with officials and his opponents, including Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Neymar.

Argentine Football Association (AFA) president Claudio Tapia said: "Here you can't talk about any lie because there is a health legislation under which all South American tournaments are played.

"The health authorities of each country approved a protocol that we have been complying with to the maximum.

"What was experienced today is regrettable for football, it is a very bad image. 

"Four people came in to interrupt the match to make a notification and CONMEBOL asked the players to go to the locker room."

The AFA also released a statement, which read: "The Argentine Football Association expresses its deep discomfort at the suspension of the meeting between the Argentine national team and the Brazilian national team in Sao Paulo. 

"Like the CBF, the AFA is surprised by the actions of ANVISA once the game has started. It should be noted that the Albiceleste delegation was in Brazilian territory since September 3 at 8am, complying with all current sanitary protocols regulated by CONMEBOL for the normal development of the qualifiers heading to Qatar 2022. 

"Following the report from the CONMEBOL officials and the match referee, the information will be forwarded to the competent FIFA body in accordance with current regulations. Football should not experience these kinds of episodes that undermine the sportsmanship of such an important competition."

Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) president Ednaldo Rodrigues joined his opposite number in criticising the health officials for the timing of their intervention.

"I feel sorry for all the sports fans who wanted to watch the game on television," he told Brazil's Sportv.

"With all due respect to ANVISA, they could have resolved this earlier and not waited for the game to start."

Germany marked Hansi Flick's first home game in charge in style as they thumped Armenia 6-0 in World Cup qualifying to go top of Group J.

Having suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to North Macedonia in the last round of qualifiers back in March, Germany had found themselves looking up at their less illustrious opponents in the group.

Armenia were unbeaten with 10 points from four games ahead of Sunday's clash in Stuttgart, but Germany, coming off a 2-0 win over Liechtenstein on Thursday, changed that situation in emphatic fashion, Serge Gnabry the undoubted star of the show.

Gnabry scored twice in the opening 15 minutes and Marco Reus and Timo Werner put the result beyond doubt before half-time, with Jonas Hofmann's long-range effort and Karim Adeyemi's goal on his senior debut rounding off a rout.

The players took to the centre circle for a pre-match tribute to Gerd Muller following the Germany legend's death last month, and 'Der Bomber' would surely have been delighted by the attacking football displayed by Flick's side.

A well-worked move on the right concluded with Gnabry lashing home at the near post after latching on to Leon Goretzka's superb pass to open the scoring, and he netted his second from almost the same spot.

Reus' ball in was missed by Werner but Gnabry beat the outstretched leg of David Yurchenko and that trio were too the fore again to make it 3-0 after Leroy Sane's wicked long-range effort clattered the crossbar.

Gnabry lofted a wonderful ball from the right wing towards Werner, whose clever flick was met with a confident first-time finish from Reus.

Goretzka's header across goal teed up Werner for a tap-in for 4-0 in the final minute of normal time in the first half, with more pain for the visitors coming seven minutes after the restart when Hofmann powered home a fifth from outside the box.

Hofmann was only denied his second through a goal-line clearance and Werner was correctly thwarted by the offside flag late on, before Adeyemi capped off another superb attack to make it a debut to remember for him on a night Armenia will quickly want to forget.

Spain responded to their defeat to Sweden with an impressive 4-0 victory over Georgia in Badajoz on Sunday in their latest qualifier for Qatar 2022.

Goals from Jose Gaya, Carlos Soler, Ferran Torres and Pablo Sarabia earned Luis Enrique's men a comfortable victory and temporarily put them back on top of their group.

While that 2-1 loss in Stockholm on Thursday ended a 66-game unbeaten run in World Cup qualifying, there was little hangover in Extremadura as the hosts delivered a controlled and entertaining display for the packed crowd.

Gaya's first-time strike from the edge of the box was not the cleanest, but it was enough to give Spain a 14th-minute lead as it took a big deflection on its way past goalkeeper Giorgi Loria.

Soler made it 2-0 with 25 minutes gone, stylishly side-footing high into the net after Marcos Llorente's cut-back found its way to his feet.

Torres saw a goal disallowed for offside but still made it 3-0 before the break, his scuffed effort bouncing beyond Loria and into the bottom-left corner.

Georgia posed a threat to Unai Simon's goal early in the second half, but Spain pounced via a quick counter-attack, Sarabia lifting a finish high past Loria after he was brilliantly set up by Pablo Fornals.

Simon did produce a remarkable one-handed stop to deny Georges Mikautadze before he was replaced by Robert Sanchez, as Luis Enrique gave some game time to the substitutes in the closing stages.

Sarabia thought he had scored a fifth with the last kick of the game, but Fornals was judged offside before delivering his pinpoint cross.

What does it mean? Stylish response from Spain after Sweden shock

Amid the inquest into that defeat to Sweden – their first in World Cup qualifying since 1993 – this was a comfortable return to winning ways for La Roja.

There was a welcome clinical edge to their performance as they moved back to the top of Group B, a point ahead of Sweden but having played two games more.

Georgia remain bottom with one point from their five matches.

Torres terrific

This was another performance to show why Pep Guardiola likes to use Torres in a central attacking role for Manchester City.

Not only did he twice put the ball in the net, the first disallowed after a VAR check, but he also contested 10 duels – the most of anyone in his hour on the pitch.

He is the first Spain player to score at least five times in a calendar year since Isco in 2018.

Can Spain sustain momentum?

Kosovo away in the coming days will be a tougher test than this one, but it is crucial to Spain's hopes of topping the group that they keep up the pressure on Sweden.

Building some form and confidence would also do no harm to their Nations League chances – they face Italy in the semi-finals on October 6.

What's next?

Spain face Kosovo in Prishtina on Wednesday, while Georgia head to Sofia to play a friendly with Bulgaria.

Brazil's World Cup qualifier against Argentina in Sao Paulo was halted on Sunday after the visiting side named three Premier League players in their starting XI, an apparent breach of coronavirus regulations.

The Selecao had called up nine internationals from the English top flight for their latest fixtures, but none of the group travelled to Brazil.

Argentina were able to include four Premier League stars, however, in Emiliano Martinez, Cristian Romero, Giovani Lo Celso and Emiliano Buendia.

Martinez and Lo Celso both played in the side's 3-1 win against Venezuela earlier this week, but issues arose as they headed to Brazil.

The United Kingdom is a red-listed country in Brazil, restricting the entry of those who have been in the UK in the past 14 days.

Martinez, Romero, Lo Celso and Buendia – the first three were involved against Brazil – all fall under that category.

Anvisa, Brazil's health authority, said in a widely released statement shortly before Sunday's game: "Anvisa considers the situation a serious health risk and so has asked local health authorities to determine the immediate quarantine of the players, who are stopped from participating in any activity and should be prevented from remaining on Brazilian soil."

When the match began with the relevant Argentina players still included, health officials walked onto the pitch.

A melee broke out and the action was halted, with the entire Argentina team soon leaving the field.

Conversations continued, with the Brazil XI remaining on the pitch, while Argentina's Lionel Messi reappeared to speak with officials and his opponents.

There were few immediate updates from official sources, with both Brazil and Argentina reporting only that the game had been halted. The visiting side posted a further message to say it had been "suspended".

Gareth Bale ended his marathon Wales goal drought with a hat-trick to boost World Cup qualification hopes as the Real Madrid forward showed his class against Belarus.

The €100million man scored for the first time in his past 17 internationals to give Wales a fifth-minute lead from the penalty spot, the first of two spot-kicks he fired home in Kazan.

Captain Bale then hit a stoppage-time winner past Sergey Chernik to give Wales a 3-2 success from their trip to Russia, with the game moved to the neutral location as Wales could not enter Belarus due to sanctions imposed against that country's government.

The tussle did not go entirely to plan for Wales, who conceded twice in quick succession around the half-hour mark, with just 92 seconds between Vitali Lisakovich's equaliser and Pavel Sedko putting the nominal home team ahead. Those had been the first two shots on target for Belarus.

But Bale levelled up in the 69th minute and then produced fresh heroics for his country in the dying moments. He had seven goal attempts in total, and the three he put on target paid handsome dividends for Wales' all-time record goalscorer.

He described the victory as "massive" and said: "We know these kinds of games are probably the hardest because you are expected to win and other teams make it difficult.

"To get that kind of last-minute goal and three points will hopefully keep our momentum going and hopefully we can keep that into the next game."

Wales had missed their previous three penalties, including Bale's failure at Euro 2020 against Turkey, and he admitted that big-stage blunder was in his thinking when he won the early spot-kick chance.

"Of course, you have it in the back of my mind," Bale told Sky Sports. "Missed penalties are a thing in football, it happens and it's about how you bounce back. It was great to score two tonight, because they were important goals.

"[The winner] was kind of last-gasp. Everything was in the box and bouncing around, and I tried to hook it in, and as soon as I saw it go just past his fingers and roll in, I was ecstatic. I knew it was right at the last few seconds."

Only once before had Bale gone longer without scoring for his country – a run of 20 games from 2007 to 2010, in the infancy of his Wales career.

Kazan is over 400 miles east of Moscow, and Bale was unimpressed by Wales being told to play there by UEFA.

"Obviously everything hasn't really gone for us in terms of travelling to Russia," said Bale. "It's not exactly ideal for UEFA or FIFA to put us here, but it is what it is and we've had to use that as extra motivation. Thankfully, we got the three points and we can get out of here."

Hansi Flick knows Germany must play with more confidence in front of goal after a wasteful performance in what was still a comfortable victory over Liechtenstein.

Germany won 2-0 in Flick's first game as coach on Thursday but would have expected a greater cushion given their dominance.

Flick's team had 30 attempts in total and controlled 85.3 per cent of the possession, though only Timo Werner and Leroy Sane found a way through.

On Sunday, Group J leaders Armenia visit Stuttgart for Flick's first home game since he took over as Germany coach.

"We created three or four good chances at the start; however, we were lacking confidence in front of goal. We need to get that back," Flick said in a pre-match news conference on Saturday, reflecting on the trip to Liechtenstein.

"We coaches are of course not blind either, we are not there to talk things through nicely. In terms of the goalscoring against Liechtenstein, we cannot be satisfied with a result of 2-0.

"At the beginning of a path that you take as a coach with a team, other things are decisive. That was important to me.

"We've got some important games coming up, so it was good to get used to one another. As a result, the starting XI won't change much. Our main aim was nine points from these three matches, and it still is."

With Flick promising few changes, it should mean another start for Werner, who came through the ranks at Stuttgart before moving to RB Leipzig and then Chelsea.

"Sometimes you win a game like that one against Liechtenstein 8-0 because the first few chances go in," said Werner, who is relishing the opportunity to play in his home city.

"On other occasions, however, you only win 2-0. The time will come again where we score two goals from a half-chance.

"Us Swabians are known for being a bit critical, but we love our football. We need to show tomorrow that we're all good players. If we do that, the Stuttgart locals will go home happy."

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin turned up the heat on FIFA over proposals to hold men's and women's World Cups every two years, saying European football's governing body have "grave concerns" about the Arsene Wenger-backed concept.

In a letter to Football Supporters Europe executive director Ronan Evain, who had urged UEFA to fight FIFA's plan, Ceferin addressed the impact of transforming the global tournaments and said fans' concerns were "extremely valid and important".

The men's World Cup has taken place every four years since its inaugural edition in 1930, aside from when the Second World War meant there was no tournament in 1942 or 1946, and the women's World Cup has also been a quadrennial event since 1991, when it was first staged by FIFA.

Former Arsenal boss Wenger has been campaigning for the change, in his role as FIFA's chief of global football development.

The FIFA congress in May saw a vote overwhelmingly go in favour of carrying out a feasibility study into the project, which was first proposed by Saudi Arabia.

However, Ceferin said in his letter, quoted in widespread reports on Friday: "UEFA and its national associations ... have serious reservations and grave concerns surrounding reports of FIFA's plans."

The UEFA chief said there was "widespread astonishment that FIFA appears to be launching a PR campaign", before the detail of any such dramatic change to the calendar has been revealed to key stakeholders. He said confederations, such as UEFA, along with national associations and leagues had not yet been fully put in the picture.

Ceferin added: "As one concrete example amongst so many, it is imperative to highlight the concerns shared across the footballing world regarding the impact a biennial FIFA World Cup would have on the international match calendar and, prominently in this context, on women's football."

That worry presumably centres on the diminished exposure the women's game might receive if its major events, such as the European Championship, clash with major men's tournaments.

Wenger has spoken in favour of the World Cup shift on several occasions, saying in July: "More knockout matches, fewer qualifying games. That's what the fans want.

"Think of it this way: 2026 the World Cup in the USA, Mexico and Canada; 2027 a European Championship and the other continental tournaments; 2028 another World Cup; and so on."

England's big win in Hungary was even more remarkable because of the racist abuse directed at their players, according to Kick It Out head of development Troy Townsend.

A 4-0 World Cup qualifying success on Thursday was overshadowed by reports of monkey chanting in Budapest.

On Friday, Townsend hailed Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate and the "support system" around 18-year-old Jude Bellingham, one of the apparent victims. Bellingham said on Twitter the abuse was "part of the game and always will be until proper punishments are put in place by those with the power".

This sort of response has prompted widespread praise as England players have time and again taken a stand against discrimination. FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Hungary, after receiving official reports of events at the Puskas Arena.

Townsend suggested racist chanting was "what we've come to expect" and the team would have thought likewise heading into Thursday's match, but he was again enthused by the players' reactions.

Raheem Sterling was surrounded by his team-mates as he celebrated the opening goal with a tribute to his late friend Steffie Gregg.

Objects were thrown at Sterling by a number of Hungary supporters, but England players including Declan Rice and Jack Grealish appeared to mock their actions by drinking from cups that landed at pitchside.

"In general, they dealt with it with class," Townsend told Stats Perform.

"Every goal, there's more meaning to it, isn't there? You see the ball go in the back of the net and you think, 'I'm disappointed with four'. I'm like, 'Oh, go and get five, go and get six'.

 

"But those players, I can't say this enough now about players who have been victimised and the support that they have of their team-mates.

"I would imagine that there will be certain elements of that squad last night that were expecting it.

"And when they targeted Raheem, who lost a close friend and that's what the inscription on his T-shirt was about, to his close friend... he's in a moment where he's paying homage to a friend, while having cups thrown at him and potentially hearing the monkey chants as well, this is what I mean about that mindset of our professionals.

"Now, they've got such a strong and positive mindset that they won't let those situations affect them.

"They know what they've got to do on the football pitch. They know what they want to achieve. And by the way, they know they're bloody good, and they're better than the opposition.

"So, actually, it makes them more determined, more steely to go and do it again, and go and do it again and go and do it again.

"And I would imagine that they would have walked off with a smile on their face while also going, 'Did you hear that? Did you hear that?'."

Gareth Southgate again praised his England players for their opposition to racism amid allegations they were abused during Thursday's 4-0 win in Hungary.

England secured a superb victory in Budapest, moving five points clear at the top of Group I in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.

Second-half goals from Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, Harry Maguire and Declan Rice helped the Three Lions move on swiftly from their Euro 2020 final heartbreak.

But this latest triumph was marred by the actions of Hungary supporters as their side suffered their heaviest defeat in 118 home World Cup qualifiers.

Objects were thrown at Sterling and his team-mates as they celebrated, while there were also reports of chants aimed at the Manchester City forward.

Southgate, like several of his players, said he had not heard the abuse, although England's decision to take the knee at kick-off was widely jeered.

He added: "It sounds like there have been some incidents and everybody knows what we stand for as a team and that that's completely unacceptable."

A Football Association spokesperson said: "It is extremely disappointing to hear reports of discriminatory actions towards some of our England players.

"We will be asking FIFA to investigate the matter.

"We continue to support the players and staff in our collective determination to highlight and tackle discrimination in all its forms."

Southgate's England have repeatedly taken a stand against racism, although the manager has been keen to highlight the negative responses to these demonstrations from a section of their own support.

"It's still taking us a long, long time to get to where we want to get to, and inevitably if other countries don't have the same level of diversity, it's probably not been in their thinking in the same way it has in our country," he explained.

"We will continue to do what we do. We will continue to set the right example for people in our own country, who will be more influenced by us than perhaps people will be elsewhere."

Little of Southgate's post-match news conference focused on the game – a 25th World Cup qualifier in succession without defeat – but he praised his players throughout.

"I don't think our players can do any more than they have done in the last two or three years in getting the right messages in, making the right stands," he said.

"It's for other people to protect them. It's for me to protect them in the main, but for authorities to protect them as well. They shouldn't have to be subjected to any form of racism."

The Three Lions boss added: "[The players] recognise that the world is changing and, although some people are stuck in their ways of thinking and their prejudices, they're going to be the dinosaurs in the end, because the world is modernising."

He finished his media duties saying: "I'm always conscious that whenever I speak about this, I don't know if I get exactly the right tone or the right words – I never want to be dismissive of it.

"Our intentions are good and we hope that people understand that and respect that."

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