The Euro 2020 qualifier match between England and Bulgaria was stopped twice by referees on Monday due to racist chants and gestures from a group of Bulgarian fans, targeted at England players.
The game was first stopped in the 28th minute and the referees began UEFA’s three-step protocol for racist fan incidents. The stadium announcer demanded that the racist chants and gestures stop or the game would be abandoned, which is the first step of the process. The announcement was met by boos from the crowd.
Stadium announcement at Bulgaria vs England:
"Because of racist behaviour which is interfering with the game, the referee has indicated he may have to suspend the match. Please be in no doubt that the game may be suspended and abandoned if racist behaviour continues."#BULENG pic.twitter.com/OvxeoJmWsu
— Goal (@goal) October 14, 2019
Less than 15 minutes later, England manager Gareth Southgate went to speak with the referees again about further racist chants that could be heard by England players. That led to the match being stopped a second time in the 43rd minute, and further intense discussions between Southgate and the referees. The second stoppage (as well as further stadium announcements) is step two of the protocol, and if the fans don’t end their behavior the game will then be abandoned.
During halftime, Bulgaria captain Ivelin Popov pleaded with fans in the stands to stop the racist chants and gestures.
Bulgaria’s captain Popov has gone to the stands and is speaking with home fans at half time. Gareth Southgate is shown in deep discussions with England officials in the tunnel at half time. #BULENG
— Joe Prince-Wright (@JPW_NBCSports) October 14, 2019
— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) October 14, 2019
The game was not abandoned and England had a 5-0 lead as the match wound down, so England fans who attended the game in person had a lot to cheer about. However, many had had no tolerance for the behavior of Bulgaria fans.
England fans confronting racism in Bulgaria pic.twitter.com/EEmOI0XKsV
— Niall ㋡ (@niallmoran_) October 14, 2019
According to the BBC, the stadium was only partially full due to a punishment from UEFA for previous incidents of racism from Bulgarian fans during qualifiers against Kosovo and the Czech Republic.
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