Police have arrested four Bulgarian football fans for allegedly subjecting black England players to racist abuse. The incident happened during England’s 6-0 Euro 2020 qualifier win over Bulgaria in Sofia. The game was stopped twice in the first half following racist chanting by home supporters.
In a statement from Bulgaria’s Ministry of the Interior said that “Work is still ongoing to identify others.” On Tuesday, Bulgaria’s football chief Borislav Mikhailov resigned.
The actions of the ‘ultras’ section of Bulgaria fans have been condemned by the English FA and Uefa. Aleksander Ceferin, the president of the sport’s European governing body have called for “football family and governments” to “wage war on the racists”.
Krasimir Balakov the manager of Bulgaria said after the game he “didn’t hear” any chanting, having previously accused England of having a bigger racist problem. On Monday Balakov recognized the incidents and posted a statement of Facebook, apologizing, “English footballers and to all those who felt offended”.
“I condemn all forms of racism as an unacceptable behavior that contradicts normal human relations,” he added.
“I think that this form of prejudice should be buried deep in our past, and no-one should ever be subjected to it.”
The behavior of Bulgaria fans was considered as “disgusting” by England midfielder Jordan Henderson after they warned for making Nazi salutes and monkey noises. “I obviously wasn’t happy with the situation that we were in – it wasn’t nice to be involved in and it shouldn’t be happening in 2019,” he said.
Team-mate Tyrone Mings said he heard racist chanting “clear as day” during the pre-match warm-up in Sofia. It was his international debut. Following the game, several players posted on social media thanking traveling fans for their support and expressing their pride in the performance despite the abuse.
“Not an easy situation to play in and not one which should be happening in 2019,” said striker Marcus Rashford. “Proud we rose above it to take three points but this needs stamping out,” he added.