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Bulgaria coach apologises to England over racist chants

October 16, 2019 14:44 IST

A group of black-clad Bulgarian fans, some of whom were making right-wing salutes, were moved from an area behind the dugout during the Euro qualifier between Bulgaria and England in Sofia on Monday

IMAGE: A group of black-clad Bulgarian fans, some of whom were making right-wing salutes, were moved from an area behind the dugout during the Euro qualifier between Bulgaria and England in Sofia on Monday. Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Bulgaria coach Krasimir Balakov has apologised to the England team after fans taunted their black players with Nazi salutes and monkey chants during a Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia on Monday.

England thrashed Bulgaria 6-0 to hand the hosts their heaviest ever home defeat but the game will be remembered more for the racist incidents that led to action being temporarily stopped in the first half.

European soccer's ruling body UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Bulgaria over the racist behaviour.

 

While Balakov said after the game he had not heard any racist abuse from the stands, in an email to reporters late on Tuesday he apologised for the fans' behaviour.

"I strongly condemn and reject racism as a norm of conduct that contradicts modern human relations," Balakov said.

"This is a prejudice that comes from the past that must be eradicated forever.

"I want to say something very clear: given that there have been insults on such a basis, I, as a coach of the national team, apologise to the English footballers and all those who feel hurt."

Bulgarian Football Union President Borislav Mihaylov resigned on Tuesday, a few hours after the Balkan country's Prime Minister Boyko Borissov called for the former international goalkeeper to step down.

Mihaylov had previously defended Bulgarian soccer from accusations of racism and criticised England for what he saw as a “fixation” on potential incidents that could raise tension.

Four detained in Bulgaria over racist chants at England game

Bulgarian police have detained four people in connection with the racist abuse faced by England's black players during a Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia with more arrests likely, the country's interior ministry said on Wednesday.

England thrashed Bulgaria 6-0 on Monday to hand the hosts their heaviest ever home defeat but the match was marred by a section of home supporters taunting the visiting players with Nazi salutes and monkey chants.

"An operation... is underway to identify and act on people who have committed indecent acts during a football match between the national teams of Bulgaria and England," Bulgaria's Ministry of Interior said on its website.

"So far, four have been detained by the police, whose involvement in the incident is being clarified. Work is still ongoing to identify other participants in the incident. The collected materials will be reported to the prosecutor's office."

More arrests were expected on Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the interior ministry said.

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