Bulgaria handed two-match stadium closure, €75k fine for racist abuse vs. England
Bulgaria have been fined €75,000 and ordered to play two matches behind closed doors, with one suspended, following the racist abuse that marred their Euro 2020 qualifier against England.
The match on Oct. 14, which England won 6-0, was stopped on multiple occasions due to incidents of racist abuse from the crowd in Sofia.
Match referee Ivan Bebek instructed the stadium PA announcer to broadcast a message -- the first step in FIFA's three-step protocol when dealing with such incidents -- after England defender Tyrone Mings complained of being the subject of racist chanting in the 22nd minute.
Bulgaria supporters in the crowd were seen directing monkey chants at England players, doing Nazi salutes and holding up shirts with the UEFA logo and the text "No Respect" -- a reference to the European governing body's "Respect" campaign aimed at curbing racism in the sport.
"Nobody should have to experience what our players did," England manager Gareth Southgate told the BBC after the match. "We followed the protocol.
"We gave two messages -- one that our football did the talking and two, we stopped the game twice.
The second match in the punishment handed down is suspended for a probationary period of two years. Bulgaria will also have to display a "No to Racism" banner with the UEFA logo on it.
In addition, the Bulgarian Football Union was fined a further €10,000 for crowd disturbances during the national anthems, with the English Football Association fined €5,000 for the same offence.
The BFU president Borislav Mihaylov resigned following the match, after Prime Minister Boyko Borissov had called for him to step down.
Bulgaria's next home match is against Czech Republic on Nov. 17.