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Bulgarian PM calls on his FA chief to quit after racism mars England game

Thom Malone
Thom Malone

11:23 15 Oct 2019

The Bulgarian Prime Minister has called on the head of the Bulgarian FA to resign in the wake of the racist behaviour by a section of Bulgarian fans during the 6-0 loss to England.

Prime minister Boyko Borissov has asked the sports minister to suspend all relations with the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU), "including financial ones" until Borislav Mihaylov resigns.

"The prime minister called me urgently a short time ago," according to Bulgarian sports minister Krasen Kralev.

"The government has done a lot for the development of Bulgarian football in the last four years.

"But after the recent events, having in mind the whole state of football and last night's incidents, the prime minister has ordered me from today to suspend any relations with the BFU, including financial ones, until the resignation of Borislav Mihaylov."

Play was halted twice due to the audible racist chants directed at England players. In line with UEFA protocols, England were offered the chance to stop playing but wanted to continue, according to manager Gareth Southgate.

"The players were keen to finish the half and then have the discussion at half time," confirmed Southgate.

"I'm incredibly proud of the players and all the staff. Of course, we could be criticised for not going far enough. But I think we have made a huge statement and, frankly, we were in an impossible situation to get it right for the satisfaction of everyone."

Captain Harry Kane added: "The lads decided to stay out. They wanted to play. They wanted to carry on."

 

Unaware

One man who was seemingly unaware of the offensive behaviour was Bulgarian head coach Krasimir Balakov.

He said after the game: "I didn't hear anything, but I just talked to the English press.

"I told them that if this is proven to be true then we have to be ashamed and apologise for it. But once again, first it has to be proven to be true."

The Bulgarian FA have received sanctions for racist behaviour before. Their association was fined €35,000 in 2011 for the racist actions of some of their fans.

Punishment on this occasion is likely to be more severe.

Should they be found guilty under Article 14 of UEFA's disciplinary regulations which relate to racism, sanctions could include one match behind closed doors and a €50,000 fine.

However, there is provision under Article 14, 'where circumstances of the case require it' to impose additional disciplinary measures, such as ground closure for multiple matches, forfeiture of a match, points deduction or disqualification from the competition.

Appalling

English Football Association chairman Greg Clarke says the abuse England's players received last night was "one of the most appalling nights in football".

The FA want UEFA to investigate the racist chanting directed at the team in Sofia.

UEFA did say they'll wait to read reports from the referee and match delegates before launching an investigation into last night's abuse in Bulgaria.

Observations from anti-discrimination group Fare - who had spotters at the game - will also be considered by UEFA.

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