Bulgaria to play game behind closed doors, fined after England racism
Bulgaria must play their next home game behind closed doors and have been handed a fine of 75,000 euros ($83,000) after racist chanting by supporters marred their Euro 2020 qualifier against England earlier this month, UEFA said Tuesday.
The disciplinary arm of European football’s governing body also ordered Bulgaria to play a second match behind closed doors, but that punishment is suspended for a “probationary period” of two years.
The punishment means Bulgaria will play their final Euro 2020 qualifier at home to the Czech Republic, on November 17, in an empty stadium.
UEFA also ordered Bulgaria to display a banner with the slogan “No To Racism” at their next two home games.
The Bulgarian FA was additionally fined a further 10,000 euros for “causing a disturbance during a national anthem” prior to kick-off of the game in Sofia on October 14, which England won 6-0. The English FA was fined 5,000 euros for the same offence.
The match at the Vasil Levski Stadium was halted twice in the first half due to abuse from sections of the home support, including monkey chants and apparent Nazi salutes.
Despite the abuse, the England team opted to complete the match instead of walking off the pitch.
The game was played in a stadium already partially closed after racist incidents during games against Kosovo and the Czech Republic in June.
Piara Powar, the executive director of the Fare network which works to combat racism and discrimination in football across Europe, believes the punishment is not harsh enough and feels Bulgaria should have been disqualified from the competition.
“We welcome the speed of this decision, but we are disappointed that Bulgaria will not be expelled from the Euro 2020 qualifying competition given their previous record, and obvious inability to deal with the problems they face,” he said.
“We think that the evidence and circumstances of this match would have justified European football being given a stronger signal on the need to tackle racism.
“Obtaining justice for racist acts is not easy in any setting, it is clear that football is no exception.”
The incidents caused indignation in the football world and were condemned both by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borisov.
The subsequent fall-out led to Bulgaria coach Krasimir Balakov resigning along with the country’s FA chief, Borislav Mihaylov.
In the wake of the incidents, Bulgarian police said they had identified 16 people suspected of being involved in the “abusive actions”.
Bulgaria are winless in seven Euro 2020 qualifiers -- losing four and drawing three -- and occupy last place in Group A. They already out of contention to qualify for next year’s finals.
Enter your email to get our daily newsletter in your inbox
- Chelsea dominated Thursday’s game and could have had more goals to add to Mason Mount’s exquisite first-half strike that turned out to be the match-winner.
- FC Goa attacked Dessai through Saviour Gama before twinkle-toed Jorge Ortiz tested him. By the 17th minute, Dessai had been caught out thrice; the last time because of a poor pass which Alexander Jesuraj intercepted needing a tackle from Vignesh Dakshinamurthy that could have been a penalty.
- Muller wouldn’t feature regularly that season but he went on to score in the Champions League knockout stages coming on as a substitute against Sporting Lisbon.
- Musiala has been making steady progress since he joined Bayern’s under-17 team from Chelsea in 2019. He has made 27 appearances for the first team, scoring four goals.
- Barcelona faces an even bigger hurdle next week when it visits Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League trailing 4-1 from the first leg. But the team can aspire to keep up its positive momentum in the Spanish league.
- The first leg, originally scheduled to be held at the Red Bull Arena in Germany, was shifted to Budapest after German authorities denied Liverpool entry into the country due to Covid-19 protocols.