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Bulgarian Journalist Accuses Gareth Southgate Of Exaggerating Racist Abuse Suffered By England Players

Bulgarian Journalist Accuses Gareth Southgate Of Exaggerating Racist Abuse Suffered By England Players

A journalist accused Gareth Southgate of exaggerating racist abuse suffered by his England players against Bulgaria.

Southgate talked about the team making a "major statement" in the first half in his post-match press conference after the first two steps of UEFA's three-step protocol were activated at the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia.

Captain Harry Kane informed the referee, who temporarily held up the game before England players elected to continue and score a further two goals in the second half.

Monkey chants were quite clearly directed at Tyrone Mings and Raheem Sterling but a Bulgarian journalist accosted Southgate and said it was "a friendly game".

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The England press officer was quick to step in and quash his questioning, and Southgate clearly wasn't too impressed.

There was also an astonishing denial from Bulgaria boss Krasimir Balakov after the game as he claimed he did not hear anything and also criticised England fans for booing Bulgaria's national anthem prior to the game.

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

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"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.

"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.

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

Meanwhile, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov is demanding that the president of the Bulgarian football Union steps down following the abhorrent abuse last night.

Topics: Football News, Racism, Football, England, Gareth Southgate, Bulgaria

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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.