Bulgaria vs England racism: Boris Johnson condemns ‘vile’ abuse and tells Uefa to ‘face up to facts’

FA chairman Greg Clarke described the scenes in Sofia as ‘one of the most appalling nights I’ve seen in football’

Tom Kershaw
Tuesday 15 October 2019 12:35
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Gareth Southgate reacts to England win over Bulgaria

Prime minister Boris Johnson condemned the torrent of racist abuse directed at England‘s players in Monday night’s Euro 2020 qualifier as “vile” and “having no place in football or anywhere else”.

England’s 6-0 victory was twice halted due to monkey chants and Nazi salutes stemming from a section of Bulgarian supporters, with FA chairman Greg Clarke describing it as “one of the most appalling nights I’ve seen in football.”

The fallout has seen Bulgaria’s prime minister call for the president of the country’s football union to resign immediately, while anti-discrimination organisation Kick It Out criticised Uefa for failing to follow through with their three-step protocol and abandon the match - Uefa’s disciplinary proceedings will be announced after the match officials submit their reports from the game.

Asked about Mr Johnson’s response to the abuse, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “The racism we saw and heard last night was vile and has no place in football or anywhere else.

“The England players and management showed tremendous dignity, and the Prime Minister commends the players who were targeted for this despicable abuse for their response.

Uefa need to face up to facts – this stain on football is not being adequately dealt with. Racism and discrimination must be driven out of football once and for all.

“We support the FA’s calls for an urgent investigation, with tough penalties to follow. We are writing to Uefa today to ask for this to be conducted swiftly.”

Gareth Southgate praised his players for making “a major statement” by persevering in the face of such abhorrent conditions.

England players wait after the match was stopped for racist chanting

“I think we’ve made a major statement with the way we played, through such difficult circumstances,” Southgate said. “I don’t think a game of this magnitude has ever been stopped twice.

Captain Harry Kane questioned the leniency of Uefa’s protocol to tackle racism and urged the governing body to issue “stronger punishments”.

“Whether the UEFA protocol is strong enough, I am not sure,” Kane said. “Whether any racial abuse should be allowed at any time... well it shouldn’t be.

“The protocol at the moment allows there to be an announcement and two or three steps before the players are taken off the pitch.

“It is unacceptable to be racist once so I feel there can be stronger punishments and protocols but from our point of view as a team, we stuck together, showed unity and did what we had to and that is the most important thing.”

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