England let the football do the talking in Bulgaria

By Beth Surridge

England’s Tuesday night Euro 2020 qualifier in Bulgaria saw the away team thrash the hosts 0-6 but it was the centre of media attention for the wrong reason over the past few days.

Racist abuse and chanting caused the game to be stopped twice in the first half, with the England players and manager considering walking off the pitch in protest.

However, this then meant that there were six minutes added on before half-time, which led to Raheem Sterling scoring another goal to make it 4-0 before the break.

Since the match, 15 Bulgarian fans have been identified and the police have arrested six of them.

After the game, Bulgaria manager Krasimir Balakov claimed that he ‘did not hear’ the home fans chanting, despite fans who watched from the comfort of their own home being able to see and hear the abuse.

He then further denied the racism claims saying that the captain spoke to them at half time and said “they were probably upset with the way that their team was playing.”

In an interview with ITV Sport, England manager Gareth Southgate said: “We reported everything immediately. We had constant communication with the officials and referee and I was in contact with the players during the first half in particular and then again at half time.”

Bulgaria have now had to make some changes in their football union, with the sports minister taking the situation higher.

Bulgarian sports minister Krasen Kralev called upon the Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov to ask for the President of the Bulgarian football union to resign following these racist attacks.

An English FA statement said: “As we are sadly aware, this is not the first time our players have been subjected to this level of abuse and there is no place for this kind of behaviour in society, let alone in football.”

England players and fans have all come together to support the movement. Raheem Sterling put on his Twitter account: “Feeling sorry for Bulgaria to be represented by such idiots in their stadium. Anyway 6-0 and we go back home, at least we did our job. Safe travel to our fans, u guys did well.”

Sterling then further went on to praise the sports minister for taking action against the President.

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Bulgaria have now been charged for the racist behaviour and England are also facing a fine due to their fans disrupting the hosts’ national anthem walking off the pitch and for not having enough travelling match stewards.

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