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A Bulgaria crowd appeared to make monkey chants and Nazi salutes at England's black players, and the team's captain begged the fans to stop

Barnaby Lane , Business Insider US
 Oct 15, 2019, 07:40 AM

Bulgaria fans in Sofia appeared to make Nazi salutes.

  • Bulgaria fans appeared to make Nazi salutes and monkey chants at England's black players during a Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia on Monday.
  • The game was halted twice in the first half, as per UEFA's "three step protocol," which included a stadium announcement and the ejection of a group from the ground.
  • Bulgaria captain Ivelin Popov appeared to plead with the home fans to stop during halftime; however, ITV commentators at the time said the behaviour continued, and no official action was then taken.
  • The former England striker and ITV pundit Ian Wright described the events as "a terrible day for Bulgarian people."
  • The Levski Stadium was already partially closed after Bulgaria was sanctioned over allegations of racist behaviour during games against Kosovo and the Czech Republic last week.
  • Visit Business Insider SA's homepage for more stories.


Bulgaria fans appeared to make Nazi salutes and monkey chants at England's black players during a UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Monday.

The game was halted twice in the first half after fans were warned about racist behaviour, and a group dressed in black attire - which had captions of "no respect" on it - were ejected from the stadium.

The first stoppage came in the 28th minute when a stadium announcement said the game would be abandoned if the behaviour continued.

The second came two minutes before half time; however, play resumed after discussions between England manager Gareth Southgate and the referee.

During halftime, Bulgaria captain Ivelin Popov walked over to fans and appeared to plead with them to stop, but ITV commentators reported that the chants continued after the break, and no official action was taken.

The former England striker Ian Wright, a pundit on ITV, said at halftime: "It's a terrible day for Bulgarian people and how they are being represented, but it's a great day in respect of trying to tackle racism.

"What we're seeing is a set of fans who do not care and need educating. As a black player, we've heard it for many years about walking off. It's something you don't want to do because you do need your white players to do that for you, so you can go off together, how powerful it is, that will do something."

The former Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane also said on the ITV broadcast that it made him "feel sick to his stomach."

The English Football Association (FA), the governing body for football in England, tweeted that its players were "subjected to abhorrent racist chanting" during the match, adding: "This is unacceptable at any level of the game."

The Levski Stadium was already partially closed on the night after Bulgaria was sanctioned over allegations of racist behaviour during games against Kosovo and the Czech Republic last week.

The England and Chelsea FC striker Tammy Abraham had told reporters ahead of the match that the England team would walk off the pitch on the night should any of the players be subject to racial abuse, according to The Telegraph.

However, the 22-year-old's announcement came under scrutiny from many, including the former Liverpool football player turned Guardian columnist Howard Gayle, who suggested that "racism wins" if England walked off.

UEFA has a three-step protocol directed at tackling racist behaviour, which involves first stopping the match, followed by a stadium announcement before eventually calling the game off.

Should England have broken the protocol, it would have faced possible sanctions. England won 6-0 on the night, thanks to goals from Marcus Rashford, Ross Barkley (2), Raheem Sterling (2), and Harry Kane.

England's next match is a November 14 Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro.

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