Bulgarian Football President Resigns After 'Vile' Racist Abuse During England Match

Boris Johnson and England Captain Harry Kane have called for stronger punishments following the shocking match against Bulgaria.

Boris Johnson has condemned the racism on display during the football match between England and Bulgaria Monday night as “vile”, and called on UEFA to conduct a swift investigation with tough penalties to follow, Downing Street has said.

The condemnation came just hours before the president of the Bulgarian Football Union, Borislav Mihaylov, was forced to resign after coming under pressure from the country’s PM Boyko Borissov.

Black players and backroom staff were subjected to abuse at various stages of the match on Monday night, but the game was ultimately completed with England winning 6-0 in Sofia.

Sanctions from European football’s governing body UEFA seem sure to follow. The body’s president, Aleksander Čeferin, said in a statement that the “rise of nationalism across the continent” was fuelling racist behaviour at football matches.

He added: “Football associations themselves cannot solve this problem. Governments too need to do more in this area. Only by working together in the name of decency and honour will we make progress.”

Late on Tuesday morning Downing Street said the abuse was “vile” and that Sports Minister Nigel Adams would be writing to UEFA to request tough penalties.

“The racism we saw and heard last night was vile and has no place in football or anywhere else,” the prime minister’s spokesman said.

“The England players and management showed tremendous dignity and the prime minister commends the players who were targeted with 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.”

There were two breaks in play during the Euro 2020 qualifier after racist chanting was reported to the match officials.

Following UEFA’s anti-racism protocols, an announcement was made in the 28th minute warning fans that any further incidents could result in the match being abandoned, while another pause before half-time only added to the nasty spectacle.

England decided at half-time to play the remainder of the game as braces from Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling and goals for Marcus Rashford and Harry Kane ensured a thumping win for the visitors.

A three-step protocol from the governing body would have allowed the officials to take the teams off for a break in play as a second measure – before ultimately taking the final step of abandoning the game.

But, speaking after victory and all of the abhorrent behaviour of the evening, Kane questioned whether being given three chances is the right way to punish offenders – echoing the view of Football Association chairman Greg Clarke.

“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.”

Raheem Sterling wrote on Twitter: “Feeling sorry for Bulgaria to be represented by such idiots in their stadium. Anyway.. 6-0 and we go back home, at least we did our job. Safe travel to our fans, u guys did well”.

After the first-half incidents, the players spoke in the changing room at half-time, with Kane praising the fortitude of his colleagues for wanting to continue the match despite the issues.

“I’m definitely proud of my team-mates and my friends and everyone involved with our nation tonight,” he added.

“It wasn’t easy for anyone, we made a decision as a team to carry on playing, you saw us come together before half-time and we said we would play until half-time, get together and decide what we wanted to do.

“Everyone wanted to carry on and do their talking on the pitch, which I am extremely proud of.”