UEFA has been urged to investigate the racist chanting during England’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Bulgaria as “a matter of urgency”.
The match in Sofia was marred by abuse directed at England’s black players during the 6-0 win for Gareth Southgate’s men, and the FA called on UEFA to take swift action as soon as the game ended.
“We can confirm that @England players were subjected to abhorrent racist chanting while playing in the #EURO2020 qualifier against Bulgaria,” an FA statement read.
“This is unacceptable at any level of the game and our immediate focus is supporting the players and staff involved.
“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. We will be asking @UEFA to investigate as a matter of urgency.”
It is understood UEFA will await the reports of the referee and other observers inside the stadium before making any decisions on any sanctions that should follow from the night.
England skipper Harry Kane spoke to Croatian referee Ivan Bebek and the first step of the UEFA anti-racism protocol – a stadium announcement to call on the abuse to stop – was enacted in the 28th minute.
Further abuse was reported to the match officials towards the end of the first half, with the referee halting play. However, it is understood this suspension of play did not constitute the second part of the UEFA protocol, which would involve the players being taken temporarily off the pitch.
The final stage of the protocol would have been the abandonment of the match.
Ian Wright said the collective action against the racist chanting meant it was “a great day” in the fight to combat discrimination.
The former England and Arsenal forward, speaking as part of ITV’s punditry team for the match, said: “It’s a terrible day for the Bulgarian people and how they have been represented, (but) it’s a great day in respect of trying to tackle racism.
“We can see over in that stand with those (anti-racism) banners, they mean nothing. What we’re seeing is a set of fans who do not care and need educating.
“As a black player, we’ve heard it for many years about walking off (in the event of racist abuse).
“But you do need your white players to do that for you, so you can go off together. When that can happen, when you can see how powerful that is, that will do something.”
The president of the Bulgarian Football Union, Borislav Mihaylov, had been critical of comments made by England in the build-up, suggesting talk of racist abuse was “unjust branding” of Bulgaria and its supporters.
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