England’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Bulgaria was halted twice due to racist chants from the crowd in Sofia. The English players deliberated walking off during the game which was eventually completed with a 6-0 rout of the hosts.
Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings, City star Raheem Sterling & United’s Marcus Rashford were among the players who were targeted with monkey chants & booing from the far side of the ground. So much so, the play had to be halted in the 27th minute by referee Ivan Bebek as manager Gareth Southgate also alerted Uefa officials about the same.
An announcement was read out on the speaker system as per Uefa’s anti-racism protocols which urged fans to stop or face the prospect of the match being abandoned. The play was again halted just before half time but the referee decided against suspending the match. During half time Bulgaria captain Ivelin Popov walked to the stands & pleaded the fans to behave.
Football Association chairman, Greg Clarke, described it as “one of the most appalling nights I’ve seen in football”. While Southgate admitted that England considered walking off. As per reports, their officials discussed the situation with Uefa personnel & and were given permission to walk off if any more instances occurred.
Although football came out triumphant once again as the game was completed in peace. England ran riot with 6 goals as Marcus Rashford, Ross Barkley, Raheem Sterling & Harry Kane all got on the scoresheet. One can only hope that such instances do not occur that put a blot on the beautiful game.