The Euro qualifier match between England and Bulgaria might have ended smoothly in favour of England, but the match did not go on as smoothly.
There were two instances where the game came to a halt due to hateful racist comments in the ground.
Very early into the match, the England stopped play after hearing racist comments. It was announced in the stadium that another such incident would lead to the match being stopped. In spite of the announcement, the incident happened again just before half time.
At half time, while the players were heading for the dug out, Bulgaria captain was seen having an angry discussion with the fans.
This is unacceptable at any level of the game and our immediate focus is supporting the players and staff involved.
— The FA (@FA) October 14, 2019
Football Association chairman Greg Clarke was at the game and witnessed the abuse first hand, saying it had left a number of the England players and staff visibly upset.
“I heard examples of appalling racist chanting,” Clarke was quoted as saying by BBC.
“I was looking at a group of people, all in black – about 50 of them – who were making what looked like political fascist gestures. I couldn’t be sure, it was 100 metres away but it looked appalling.
“I’ve spoken to one or two of the players and I’ve also spoken to one or two of the backroom staff, because we don’t just have a multiracial team, we have a multiracial backroom staff.
“They were visibly emotionally upset, and I spoke to Gareth after the game too and I offered him our full support.”
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 MBE (@MarcusRashford) October 14, 2019
“Uefa, who I’ve spoken to throughout the game, at half-time and at the end of the game, will be carrying out a thorough investigation to make sure this appalling scene of terrible racism is treated appropriately,” Clarke further said.
England defender Tyrone Mings, who was making his international debut, said the players had decided as a group at half-time to continue the game.
“Just before the end of the first half the appropriate next step was to return to the changing room,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“We made a common-sense decision to play the remaining few minutes and decided at half-time. Everybody made the decision. The manager, the team, the supporting staff. We spoke about it at half-time and we dealt with it and escalated it in the right way.
“I am proud of how we dealt with it and took the appropriate steps.”