BULGARIA stewards took off their bibs and joined in to racially abuse England players last night, according to football’s official anti-discrimination body.
Employees from Fare, an organisation set up to counter discrimination within the sport, saw “at least” 20 staff joined in with some of offensive chanting.
It is believed some stewards inside the stadium removed their yellow bibs and joined in with the chanting[/caption]
Smirking Bulgarian fans gave Nazi salutes last night[/caption]
Following a fiery night in the Bulgarian capital:
- Raheem Sterling and Tyrone Mings were targeted with sick racist abuse
- Sterling hits back at racists with brilliant Ainsley Harriott GIF tweet
- Marcus Rashford praises captain Ivelin Popov after he begs fans to stop
- Bulgaria boss sensationally claims he didn’t hear racist abuse
- Mings reveals he first heard racial abuse during warm-up
- England fans sing ‘Who put the ball in the racists’ net?’
- Bulgaria FA chief Borislav Mikhailov dramatically resigns
- Bulgarian keeper praises home fans for ‘behaving well’
- England go on to win crucial Euros qualification tie 6-0
The persistent racist abuse aimed at England’s stars marred their 6-0 win at the Stadion Vasil Levski in Sofia.
England almost walked off the pitch after the referee had to halt play TWICE during the first half because of the abuse – as part of Uefa’s new anti-racism protocol.
It has since emerged that some of the staff working inside the ground may have also contributed to the shocking chants and atmosphere.
“BOOT THEM OUT”
Fare are now calling for Bulgaria to be booted out of the Euro 2020 competition.
Pavel Klymenko, Fare’s Eastern European specialist, told The Times: “We believe and are calling for the Bulgarian FA to be kicked out of the Euro 2020 competition.
“Uefa should make an example of them, the legal armoury is there.
“Our observers told us they saw at the beginning of the game at least 20 people entered wearing the bibs of technical staff, took them off and just joined the fans.
“They are basically employed as stadium staff. That is not that rare in eastern Europe – many hooligan group members are connected to a club as security staff or stewards.
“Everyone knew exactly where in the stadium the problems were going to happen, yet there was not any screening of the fans. This is just negligence.
“Levski Sofia fans have been one of the worst in terms of neo-Nazi infiltration, and after the Bulgaria v Czech Republic game Uefa took action against the display of banners of two fringe neo-Nazi, skinhead political parties.”
Our observers told us they saw at the beginning of the game at least 20 people entered wearing the bibs of technical staff, took them off and just joined the fans.
The organisation also called for football union chief Borislav Mikhailov resigned and he later quit his role following demands from PM Boyko Borissov.
It comes after England boss Gareth Southgate was told to “f*** off” by a Bulgarian cameraman after his post-match press conference in Sofia, according to reports.
And according to Sky Sports reporter Kaveh Solhekol, Southgate’s press conference was interrupted by a Bulgarian journalist who tried to convince the room the racism witnessed by all wasn’t as bad as was being made out.
When the England manager was eventually allowed to finish, a Bulgarian cameraman sat next to Solhekol reportedly told Southgate to “f*** off”.
PM Boris Johnson today condemned the “vile racism” and offered the team his “full support”.
Boris said: “The vile racism we saw and heard last night has no place in football or anywhere else.
“I fully support Gareth Southgate and the team for rising above it. Need to see strong swift action from UEFA.”
Number 10 will write to UEFA today and said the “deterrent needs to be tough”.
A spokesman added: “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.”
Bulgaria boss Krasimir Balakov had fuelled the fire before the match by claiming that England have a bigger racism problem.
And Balakov was equally bullish after the match, claiming fans were just unhappy with the team’s performance – before going on to criticise England supporters.
He said: “It is probably because the fans were unhappy with the way the team was performing.
“I personally did not hear the chanting.
“I saw that the referee stopped the game but I also have to say that the unacceptable behaviour was not only on the part of the Bulgaria but also the England fans who were whistling and shouting during the national anthem.
“In the second half they were using words against our fans that I find unacceptable.”