Bulgaria-England Soccer Game Stopped Twice after Fans Make Monkey Noises at Black Players

England's Black soccer players became the target of racist chants during a game in Bulgaria which almost resulted in the game's suspension. Eight years ago at the same stadium, England's Black players also received the same reception.

A soccer match between Bulgaria and England was almost suspended after a group of Bulgarian fans made racist noises against England’s Black players.

That first warning happened 28 minutes into the game. However, at the 43-minute mark, the racist chants began again prompting officials to temporarily stop the game though players remained on the field.

England soccer player, Raheem Sterling reacting to the monkey noises made towards him and his fellow Black team mates during the match between England and Bulgaria at Sofia Stadium. | Photo: Twitter/TheSportsmanBet

England soccer player, Raheem Sterling reacting to the monkey noises made towards him and his fellow Black team mates during the match between England and Bulgaria at Sofia Stadium. | Photo: Twitter/TheSportsmanBet

THE NOISY INCIDENT

As tensions rose between the two teams during the Euro 2020 qualifier game in Bulgaria when England was leading 2-0, Bulgarian fans began making monkey noises and Nazi salutes towards England players, Tyrone Mings, Raheem Sterling, and Marcus Rashford.

Responding to the protocol set by the Union of European Football Association for racist behavior, officials made an announcement over the loudspeaker to warn the misbehaving fans that if they continued to interfere with the game, the match would be suspended. 

That first warning happened 28 minutes into the game. However, at the 43-minute mark, the racist chants began again prompting officials to temporarily stop the game though players remained on the field.

According to UEFA rules, should the behavior continue for the third time, it would result in the game’s suspension.

It was a good thing that the chants ceased after that and the game saw its finish with England beating Bulgaria 6-0.

As a result of the incident, the president of the Bulgarian football association, Borislav Mihaylov reportedly resigned under the orders of its prime minister, Boyko Borissov. 

THE AFTERMATH

Following the match, England’s Football Association released a statement confirming the racism its players were subjected to. 

“We can confirm that @England players were subjected to abhorrent racist chanting while playing in the #EURO2020 qualifier against Bulgaria.”

The statement further revealed that it wasn’t the first time the England players experienced the kind of abuse and insisted, “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,” it finally said. 

As a result of the incident, the president of the Bulgarian football association, Borislav Mihaylov reportedly resigned under the orders of its prime minister, Boyko Borissov. A statement announcing his resignation said, (as translated by Atlanta Black Star):

“His decision is a consequence of the tensions caused in recent days; an environment, which is damaging to Bulgarian football and to the Bulgarian football association.” 

Meanwhile, six people believed to be responsible for the racist chants during the game had already been arrested. A police operation is also underway to identify others who were involved. There are reportedly three more people the Sofia police intend to arrest.” 

THE PRECEDENT

The last time England’s soccer team set foot on the Bulgarian stadium was in 2011. Its Black players then, Ashley Cole, Ashley Young, and Theo Walcott were also subjected to monkey chants, according to a report by The Irish Times. It’s a pity that after so many years, nothing had changed.

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