Bulgaria vs England racism: Bulgarian Football Union president resigns after racist abuse mars qualifier

Borislav Mikhailov’s departure was declared ‘a consequence of the recent tensions’

Tom Kershaw@trlkershaw
Tuesday 15 October 2019 15:14
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Bulgarian journalist claims England match 'was so friendly' as he interrupts Gareth Southgate press conference

The president of Bulgaria’s Football Union (BFU), Borislav Mikhailov, has resigned after an avalanche of racist abuse was aimed at England’s footballers during Monday night’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia.

The BFU cited the decision as “a consequence of the recent tensions”, however, the governing body did not specifically mention racism in their statement.

Earlier on Tuesday morning, Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borisov stated that the government would freeze all funding and relations with the BFU until Mikhailov departed his role.

Mikhailov had been vocal in dismissing England’s concerns over the threat of possible racist abuse prior to the match, labelling the comments of Gareth Southgate as “offensive” and “derogatory”.

Bulgarian minister for sport Krasen Kralev told Bulgarian news site sportal.bg: “A little while ago, the Prime Minister called me urgently. You know that in the last four years, the government has done a lot for the development of Bulgarian football.

“But after the recent events, having in mind the whole state of football, after yesterday’s incidents, the Prime Minister has ordered me from today to suspend any relations with the football union, including financial ones, until the resignation of Borislav Mikhailov.”

Play was halted twice during the 6-0 victory, with a section of Bulgarian supporters shouting racist abuse and making Nazi salutes, in what FA chairman Greg Clarke described as “one of the most appalling nights” he’d witnessed in football.

Downing Street described the scenes in Sofia as “vile” and urged Uefa to “face up to facts” surrounding criticism of the governing body’s three-step protocol designed to deal with racist abuse during matches.

Prime minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said: “The racism we saw and heard last night was vile and has no place in football or anywhere else.

Marcus Rashford shakes hands with Gareth Southgate after the match

“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.”

England captain Harry Kane also questioned the leniency of Uefa’s three-step protocol and called for “stronger punishments” on racism.

“Whether the Uefa protocol is strong enough, I am not sure,” he 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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