UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against the Bulgarian Football Union after home supporters aimed racist abuse at England players during a Euro 2020 qualifier yesterday.
The association has been charged over their fans “racist behaviour,” for supporters “throwing objects” and for “disruption of the national anthem.”
The English FA has also been charged with disruption of a national anthem, as well as providing an insufficient number of travelling stewards.
The match in Sofia had to be halted twice after England players were subjected to monkey chants and Nazi salutes by some home fans.
The English Football Association has also been charged with disruption of a national anthem, as well as providing an insufficient number of travelling stewards.
On The Hard Shoulder this evening, the former Liverpool and England footballer Phil Thompson said UEFA must take a tougher stance on racism.
“Slaps on the wrist have to stop,” he said.
“They have to ban, not just national teams, but UEFA have to ban club sides.
“I know people go, ‘Bulgarian football doesn’t get past the third round’ – but they start off in qualifying rounds of UEFA competitions.
“They have to ban them. A few thousand Pound fine is not going to hurt anybody.”
The scenes led the country’s Prime Minister Boyko Borissov to call for Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) President Borislav Mihailov to resign.
This afternoon, the BFU said Mr Mihailov had resigned.
It said the decision was “a consequence of the recent tensions which created an environment that is detrimental to Bulgarian football and the Bulgarian Football Union.”
The statement said Mr Mihailov stood ready to use his “many contacts at a high international level” to continue working to develop Bulgarian football in every possible way.
This morning, the Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov called for him to step down.
He posted on his official Facebook page: "I urge Borislav Mihaylov to immediately resign as president of the Bulgarian Football Union!"
He also tweeted in English: "I strongly condemn the conduct of some of the fans at the stadium."
"It is unacceptable that Bulgaria which is one of the most tolerant states in the world and where people of different ethnic and religious background peacefully live together should be associated with racism.”
I strongly condemn the conduct of some of the fans at the stadium #BULENG It is unacceptable that Bulgaria which is one of the most tolerant states in the world and where people of different ethnic and religious background peacefully live together should be associated with racism
— Boyko Borissov (@BoykoBorissov) October 15, 2019
While the country's Sports Minister Krasen Kralev told reporters: "The government has done a lot for the development of Bulgarian football in the last four years.
"But after the recent events, having in mind the whole state of football and last night's incidents, the prime minister has ordered me from today to suspend any relations with the BFU, including financial ones, until the resignation of Borislav Mihaylov."
The game was played in a partially closed stadium as punishment for "racist behaviour" by fans during a previous home Euro 2020 qualifier against Kosovo in June.
Monday's game was temporarily halted twice, after England players were subjected to monkey chants and Nazi salutes by some home fans.
The chairman of the English Football Association, Greg Clarke, called it "one of the most appalling nights" he has ever seen in football.
He 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.
"Sadly, my players, because of their experiences in our own country, are hardened to racism," he said.
"They also know they've made a statement and they want the focus to be on the football."
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.
Speaking after the 6-0 victory, England captain Harry Kane said: "Whether the UEFA protocol is strong enough, I am not sure.
"It is unacceptable to be racist once so I feel there can be stronger punishments and protocols but from our point of view as a team, we stuck together, showed unity and did what we had to and that is the most important thing."
England player Raheem Sterling said he felt sorry for the Bulgarian players "to be represented by such idiots in their stadium".
While 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.
He wrote: "Also been told what the Bulgaria captain did at half-time. To stand alone and do the right thing takes courage and acts like that shouldn't go unnoticed. #NoTo Racism."
Also been told what the Bulgaria captain did at half-time. To stand alone and do the right thing takes courage and acts like that shouldn’t go unnoticed. #NoToRacism
— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) October 14, 2019
However Bulgaria head coach Krasimir Balakov claimed that conversation was more likely to be about his side's poor display and that he himself had not heard any racism during the match.
"I was concentrated on the game," Balakov said.
"I didn't actually hear anything but I just talked to the English press downstairs and I told them that if this is proven to be true, then we have to be ashamed and we have to apologise for it.
"But, once again, first it has to be proven to be true."
Main image: Bulgaria fans gesture in the stands after an announcement during the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying match at the Vasil Levski National Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria | Image: Nick Potts/PA Wire/PA Images