The European Championship qualification match between England and Bulgaria in Sofia was overshadowed on Monday by racist slogans by Bulgarian fans. The English won the match convincingly with 0-6 and can hardly miss an EK ticket.
Things went wrong in the first half in Sofia, where the stadium speaker called on home fans to stop making monkey sounds after half an hour of playing. 43 minutes into the game, referee Ivan Bebek stopped the game again shortly after coach Gareth Southgate complained, but after a short interruption, football continued.
According to the BBC , Bulgarian hooligans not only made monkey sounds, but also brought the Nazi salute. Captain Ivelin Popov addressed the spectators who misbehaved during the rest to urge them to calm down. That seemed to help, because it remained relatively calm in the second half.
By the way, England already comfortably led 0-4 through goals from Marcus Rashford, Ross Barkley (two) and Raheem Sterling, one of the targets of the racist Bulgarian fans. Sterling made it 0-5 in the 69th minute and the final chord was five minutes before time for Harry Kane.
It is not the first time that Bulgarian fans have committed themselves. The match against England was already finished in a half-empty stadium due to a penalty following racist expressions from the fans in previous qualifying matches. Chances are that the Bulgarians will now receive a new sentence from UEFA.
Bulgarian hooligans misbehave. (Photo: Pro Shots)
England players announced that they were going off field
The players of England are more often the victims of racism this year. Captain Harry Kane, in the run-up to the game against Bulgaria, announced that his team would leave the field if racist slogans were heard in Sofia, although the players indicated that they wanted to abide by the UEFA protocol.
According to that protocol, the leader must first report racism to the referee, who must then temporarily stop the competition. After that the stadium announcer calls on the perpetrators to stop, and only if that also does not help, the game will be definitively stopped. So that protocol was followed in Sofia.
Because of the convincing victory, England is almost certain of participating in the European Championship next summer. Southgate's team now stands at fifteen points, three more than immediate attacker in the Czech Republic and four more than Kosovo, which beat Montenegro 2-0 in front of its own crowd on Monday-evening. Amir Rrahmani and Vedat Muriqi signed for the Fadil Vokrri Stadium hits in the first half.
The numbers one and two in the group directly qualified for the European Championship, which will be held in different countries next summer. England, the Czech Republic and Kosovo still have two European Championship qualifiers to play.