UEFA brings charges after England stars racially abused during Bulgaria game

15 October 2019, 17:07 | Updated: 15 October 2019, 18:50

UEFA says it has opened disciplinary charges after England players were subjected to racist abuse during an away game in Bulgaria.

The European football governing body has charged the Bulgarian Football Union with four offences: racist behaviour including chants and Nazi salutes; the throwing of objects; disruption of the national anthem; and replays on a giant screen.

Two charges have also been brought against the English FA: disruption of the national anthem and an insufficient number of travelling stewards.

The case is going to be dealt with by the UEFA control, ethics and disciplinary body, and the date of a meeting about the charges is yet to be confirmed.

It came hours after police raided the headquarters of the Bulgarian Football Union - with its president, Borislav Mihaylov, resigning from his post after being ordered to by the prime minister.

Bulgaria has come in for heavy criticism for the conduct of home fans during the Euro 2020 qualifier on Monday night, which was played in a partially closed stadium as punishment for "racist behaviour" by fans during a previous match against Kosovo in June.

Monday's game was temporarily halted twice after England players were subjected to monkey chants and Nazi salutes by home fans.

Following UEFA's anti-racism protocols, an announcement was made in the 28th minute warning fans that any further incidents could result in the match being abandoned, while another pause before half-time only added to the nasty spectacle.

Under the rules, a third incident could have seen officials abandon the game, but England decided at half-time to play on.

England went on to win the match 6-0 - but some, including team captain Harry Kane, have questioned whether UEFA's protocols are strong enough.

FA chairman Greg Clarke called it "one of the most appalling nights" he had ever seen in football, and called on UEFA to investigate the "abhorrent racist chanting" as a matter of urgency.

England manager Gareth Southgate called the situation "unacceptable" but said his players made a "major statement" on and off the pitch by refusing to let the racists win.

He said: "Sadly, my players, because of their experiences in our own country, are hardened to racism. They also know they've made a statement and they want the focus to be on the football."

England star Raheem Sterling said he felt sorry for the Bulgarian players "to be represented by such idiots in their stadium".

Meanwhile, debutant Tyrone Mings revealed he heard racist abuse in the warm-up ahead of the game.

"I think everybody heard the chants, but we stood together and we made certain decisions," he said.

Bulgaria's captain Ivelin Popov was seen remonstrating with home supporters at half-time, prompting England's Marcus Rashford to praise him on Twitter.

In a statement, FIFA said any sanctions imposed for racist incidents could be extended worldwide.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino described racism in football as an "obnoxious disease", adding: "So many times we say there is no place for racism in football, but nonetheless we still face challenges to tackle this problem in our sport, as we do in society."

He also suggested that those found guilty of racist behaviour should face lifetime bans from stadiums and called for football governing bodies to work together.