England hit Bulgaria for six goals but it wasn’t their on-field show that made the headlines in the Group A clash of the ongoing Euro 2020 qualifiers on Monday night. In the first half of the one-sided contest, officials had to stop the proceedings twice because of racist chants and Nazi salutes from the Bulgarian supporters.
The contest was halted in the 28th minute and 43rd minute. However, it went ahead despite the complaints as England decided against taking extreme step of walking out.
England Football Association Chairman Greg Clarke wants UEFA to take ‘stringent review’ of the events that marred the night. “I would like to see a very stringent review by UEFA because I know they take racism very seriously,” English FA Chairman Greg Clarke was quoted by Guardian as saying. “We should join a movement to drive racism out of our game and have zero tolerance for it.”
England FA has asked UEFA to start an urgent investigation into the matter. “As we are sadly aware, this is not the first time our players have been subjected to this level of abuse and there is no place for this kind of behavior in society, let alone in football. We will be asking UEFA to investigate as a matter of urgency,” the FA said in a statement.
England manager Gareth Southgate praised his players for making ‘a major statement’ in difficult circumstances.
“I know that whatever we do might be perceived as not being enough but I think we’ve made a major statement,” Southgate said. “We’ve made a major statement with the way we played, through such difficult circumstances. I don’t think a game of this magnitude has ever been stopped twice. So, I’m incredibly proud of all of the players and all of the staff. We could be criticised for not going far enough but I think we’ve made a huge statement and, frankly, we were in an impossible situation to get it right to the satisfaction of everybody.”
The chants were reportedly directed at Raheem Sterling and debutante Tyrone Mings who asked the match referee if he had heard them before a discussion with Southgate resulted in match being paused for the first time.
Sterling scored a hat-trick in a 6-0 win.