Tyrone Mings saw his debut match for England on Monday-evening against Bulgaria (0-6 win) overshadowed by the racist slogans of the Bulgarian fans. Yet the defender, like national coach Gareth Southgate, is happy with the way the team and the arbitral trio have dealt with the situation.
The European Championship qualifying match in the Vasil Levski Stadium was stopped twice in the first half. In the 28th minute the stadium speaker called on home fans to stop making monkey sounds for the first time and in the 43rd minute referee Ivan Bebek stopped the game again.
However, there was no transition to a definitive strike, but football continued after a short interruption. Although the players from England announced last week that they would leave the field if racist slogans were heard in Sofia and did not do so on Monday evening, there is satisfaction with the action taken.
"It makes me proud to look at how we have dealt with the situation," Mings said after talking to the BBC . "The sounds could be heard very clearly on the field, but it didn't bother me very much. I especially feel sorry for the people who feel it is necessary to behave that way."
"I first went to captain Harry Kane, who told the team coach again and he consulted with the fourth official again. Everyone was informed, but we wanted to let the football speak and not be distracted."
A group of Bulgarian fans misbehaved in Sofia. (Photo: Pro Shots)
Southgate proud of reaction players
Halfway through, the dressing room of England talked about whether or not to finish the game, but the players wanted to be back on the pitch. In the second half it was relatively quiet in the stadium and the game could be played as usual.
"I told the players in the break that we would leave the field if anything happened in the second half," Southgate said. "Everyone could see that it was quieter after the break and that we could let the football speak. It's a shame that after tonight it probably won't be about our great game."
The national coach noticed in the run-up to the game against Bulgaria that there was a lot to do in Sofia. Not only because of his players' statements about possible racist statements by the notorious Bulgarian fans, but also the subsequent indignant reaction of the Bulgarian association, which felt offended.
"My week was mainly about defending my players and my staff," said Southgate. "That's why I'm so proud of the entire group. It was a very difficult week, but the players remained focused and played fantastic. They made a big statement."
See also: Racist slogans Bulgarian fans overshadow sounding England victory
View the results and the positions in the European Championship qualification