Bulgaria ask UEFA to sanction England if they continue to discuss racist abuse

10 October 2019

England’s players should face sanctions from UEFA if they continue to talk about the possibility of racist abuse in Bulgaria, the president of the eastern European country’s federation has said.

Borislav Mikhaylov, boss of the Bulgarian Football Union, has written to European football’s governing body to express his anger at comments from the England camp suggesting they could walk off the pitch if any of their players are racially abused, without following UEFA’s three-step protocol.

He says the comments are “unjust”, although the national stadium in Sofia will be partially closed on Monday for the England game as punishment for racist behaviour by supporters in earlier home Euro 2020 qualifiers.

Mikhaylov sent examples of the comments by England’s players to UEFA general secretary Theodore Theodoridis, claiming that they were “openly discussing” breaking UEFA protocol and insisted that the team should be punished if they followed through on it, or if they continued to discuss it.

“We at the Bulgarian Football Union feel that this fixation on potential incidents during the game in Sofia does not do justice to the Bulgarian supporters, the general public and to the extreme efforts and measures that the Bulgarian Football Union has taken in order to ensure a fair and safe environment for what we believe to be a true footballing spectacle,” he wrote.

“Although we are aware of the recent problems with racist behaviour in all tiers of English club football and with England’s ongoing battle with hooliganism and although we sincerely applaud the FA’s initiative for the English fans to report trouble within the visiting crowd, we are extremely shocked at all efforts to involve and even mark out the Bulgarian spectators as potential troublemakers.

Danny Rose in action during the qualifier away to Montenegro in March, when a number of England’s black players were subjected to racist abuse (Nick Potts/PA)

“The Bulgarian public has in no way committed any recent infringements that deserve it to be stereotyped as “racist” or “hostile” – and I am sure you will agree that these accusations are not only unjust but are continuous attempts to disrupt the atmosphere before a very much anticipated game of football.

“I, as president of the Bulgarian Football Union, cannot allow for such derogatory claims to continue being spread in the mass media and I strongly suggest that the UEFA administration take measures against the build-up of unnecessary tension in the weeks devoted to equality and to the celebration of football.”

England’s black players were racially abused during the Euro qualifier away to Montenegro in March. The Montenegrin federation were ordered to play their next match, against Kosovo in June, behind closed doors.

Contact Form