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Bulgaria Manager Issues Astonishing Denial Over Racist Abuse, Blames England Fans

Bulgaria Manager Issues Astonishing Denial Over Racist Abuse, Blames England Fans

Bulgaria manager Krasimir Balakov claims he did not hear racist chants aimed at England players in last night's 6-0 defeat but also criticised travelling Three Lions' fans for booing his country's national anthem.

England's European Championship qualifier against the hosts was brought to a halt in the first half when Tyrone Mings was subjected to monkey chants in his international debut.

The first two steps of UEFA's three-step protocol were activated in Sofia after captain Harry Kane informed the referee, who temporarily held up the game.

Image: PA
Image: PA
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Gareth Southgate and the England players elected to play the second half, where things settled for a period after a large section of "ultras" were ejected - though ITV later showed a clip where Raheem Sterling suffered racist abuse.

Bulgaria supporters were also caught on camera doing Nazi salutes.

Bulgaria boss Balakov had said England had a bigger problem in regards to racism going into the game and gave a pretty pathetic response to the home fans' shocking behaviour when speaking in a post-match interview with ITV.

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"I personally did not hear the chanting you are most probably referring to," Balakov told ITV with the help of translation.

"I saw that the referee stopped the game. But I also have to say the unacceptable behaviour was not only on behalf of the Bulgaria fans but also the England fans who were whistling and shouting during the Bulgaria national anthem and during the second half they used words against our fans which I find unacceptable.

"To be honest this has not happened to us before. The disciplinary measures by UEFA were not because of racist chanting but because of a banner from an organisation which is not forbidden by Bulgarian law.

"We have had this problem since England were going to come to Bulgaria. For three weeks I have heard anything else but football and I don't think this is the proper manner to prepare and play a football game because over three weeks everybody was talking about one thing.

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"If this turns out to be true, we are truly sorry. The Bulgaria national team and the Bulgaria football union are working very hard and no one wants to see this.

"But let me tell you this really has never happened before in our games up until now."

The 53-year old was asked in his press conference about captain Ivelin Popov pleading with fans to stop the abuse but again decided to beat around the bush.

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Sterling, who continued his fine goalscoring form with a brace in the drubbing, took to Twitter to react to racist abuse.

Topics: Football News, Racism, Euro 2020, English Football, Tyrone Mings, England, Bulgaria, Raheem Sterling

Josh Lawless

Josh is a writer who specialises in football and wrestling. He has been published by Curzon Ashton FC, Late Tackle, Manchester City FC, The Mirror, Read Man City and Manchester Evening News. He provides coverage of professional wrestling and has interviewed some of the biggest names in the field - including the first UK interview with The Hardy Boyz after their return to WWE. He has never sported a pair of Lonsdale Slip-ons, contrary to reports.

 

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