Bulgaria Player Says Racist Abuse Was Pre-Planned, Apologises To England Players After The Game
The racist abuse England players suffered in Sofia during last night's European Championships qualifier against Bulgaria was pre-planned, according to an unnamed Bulgaria player.
Sky Sports say that the mystery player told members of the Three Lions' side after the game that the abuse, aimed at the likes of Tyrone Mings and Raheem Sterling, was coordinated before the 6-0 defeat.
The player is said to have apologised, having seen monkey chants and Nazi salutes displayed by a large group of Bulgarian supporters dressed in all black.
The first two steps of UEFA's three-step protocol were activated at the Vasil Levski Stadium after captain Harry Kane informed the referee, who temporarily held up the game on two different occasions.
At half-time, Bulgaria skipper Ivelin Popov didn't head down the tunnel straight away and instead went over to the home fans - pleading with them to stop the abuse and receiving praise from England forward Marcus Rashford.
Bulgaria captain Ivelin Popov had a heated discussion with some Bulgarian fans during the break of tonight's #BULENG qualifier after the match had been stopped twice for racist chants in the first half pic.twitter.com/8u0a1CGcoa- mshumanov (@shumansko) October 14, 2019
Speaking about his actions post-match, the 31-year old said: "First, I tried to talk with the stewards who were supposed to control the situation. We're all suffering from that kind of behaviour.
"Do you think a foreign player would like to come and play in Bulgaria after what happened tonight? Racism is a world problem that needs to be eradicated. We're all people regardless of the skin colour."
Unfortunately, Bulgarian goalkeeper Plamen Iliev had a different stance and didn't think there was any problem with the behaviour of many of the home supporters.
"If I am honest, I believe they [the fans] behaved well today," Iliev said.
"There wasn't any abuse [as far as I could hear] and I think they [the England players] overreacted a bit. The public was on a good level - I didn't hear any bad language used towards their or our players."