Nazi salutes and racist chants congratulate England as they won 6-0 against Bulgaria in the Euro 2020 qualifier on Monday night.
The match was halted twice before half time as per the 3-step protocol from UEFA. Step one, an announcement demanding fans stop quickly arrived. Step 2 was reached, the halting of the match and sending the players off pitch. Step 3, match cancellation, was not implemented despite the grounds (continued discriminatory abuse) being met.
Kick It Out criticised this, stating that it seems that officials valued the match going on despite the abuse. Fans did Nazi salutes and Sky Sports News’ Rob Dorsett reported ‘clear monkey chants’ from the stands.
On Tuesday the News was populated with statements from Bulgarian officials calling for Borislav Mihaylov, the president of the Bulgarian football union to resign. Mihaylov is an ex-Reading goalkeeper who played for the team in the mid 1990’s. At around 2pm his resignation was announced.
Bulgaria can face sanctions as a result of Monday night including a 50,000 euro fine, match forfeits and expulsion from tournaments. The question is, is this enough?
Racism in sports is a big issue. The overwhelming numbers of white men in positions of authority in various sports organisations scream to us of the ongoing issue of race in this country and others. Although this match happened in Bulgaria, we should use this as a time of reflection, as should all sporting institutions.
Racism among fans is not an issue we can afford to wait out. The older generations raise the younger, and attitudes of hate persist through time.
Are these sanctions strong enough? Does the UEFA racism protocol work?