ENGLAND’S win against with Bulgaria was halted TWICE after Raheem Sterling and Tyrone Mings were targeted with sick racist abuse by home fans.
Manchester City star Sterling and Aston Villa’s Mings were subjected to disgusting monkey noises – with some supporters inside the ground also seen doing Nazi salutes.
Tyrone Mings was subjected to vile abuse and made an official complaint to the assistant referee[/caption]
Raheem Sterling, who scored twice after being targeted by racists, was booed and abused every time he touched the ball[/caption]
England eventually won 6-0 in Sofia, taking a major step towards qualification for Euro 2020, but not before players were forced to stop playing twice in the first half.
English players also came close to walking off but fought on to teach the racists a lesson.
The Three Lions players stopped playing after Mings made an official complaint to the assistant referee and captain Harry Kane with 28 minutes played in Sofia.
Angrily turning to the linesman, 26-year-old Mings said: “Hey, did you hear that?”
Kane then went to Croatian referee Ivan Bebek with play stopped for six minutes as an announcement went out around the ground.
Following Uefa protocol, the referee informed Italian Uefa delegate Danilo Filacchione before the announcement, which told fans to stop.
Southgate could be heard saying to the Uefa official: “It’s continuing.”
Other fans were clearly doing monkey chants when Sterling and Mings were on the ball[/caption]
A group of supporters were ordered to leave the stadium at half-time – although racist abuse continued in the second half[/caption]
The stadium announcer told home fans that the game would be suspended again or even completely abandoned if the abuse carried on.
He said: “Because of racist behaviour which is interfering with the game, the referee has indicated that he may have to suspend the match.
“Racism in stadiums will not be tolerated. Please be in no doubt the game will be suspended and may be abandoned if racist behaviour continues among spectators.”
Just before half-time the game was halted again, this time for around two minutes, with dozens of Ultras – dressed all in black – ordered to leave the stadium.
Bulgarian captain Ivelin Popov was also seen arguing with home supporters at the break, pleading with them to stop the monkey chants and abuse.
Popov was later praised for his “courage” by England star Marcus Rashford.
Racist abuse could still be heard in the second half.
Pictures inside the ground also showed some Bulgarian fans doing Nazi salutes and others clearly doing monkey chants.
It is probably because the fans were unhappy with the way the team was performing. I personally did not hear the chanting.
Bulgaria coach Krasimir Balakov
England players and Gareth Southgate talk amongst themselves and to the referee after the sick chanting[/caption]
Fuming Southgate and FA chairman Greg Clarke had a heated half-time discussion with Filacchione
The Football Association released a statement after the game asking for Uefa to investigate.
It read: “The FA can confirm that England players were subjected to abhorrent racist chanting while playing in the Euro 2020 qualifier against Bulgaria.
“This is unacceptable at any level of the game and our immediate focus is supporting the players and staff involved.
“As we are sadly aware, this is not the first time our players have been subjected to this level of abuse and there is no place for this kind of behaviour in society, let alone in football.
“We will be asking Uefa to investigate as a matter of urgency.”
Uefa have so far refused to comment.
After the game Sterling, 24, replied to a Piers Morgan tweet that said: “No sweeter way to stuff it up these racist Bulgaria fans than for a black England player to destroy their team with his sublime talent.”
The England hero posted a gif of TV chef Ainsley Harriot smiling and saying “Delightful”.
He then quoted an article in which Bulgaria head coach Krasimir Balakov had claimed England has a bigger racism problem than his own problem.
Sterling said: “Mmmmh… Not sure about this one chief.”
He then wrote a longer message: “Feeling sorry for Bulgaria to be represented by such idiots in their stadium.
“Anyway… 6-0 and we go back home, at least we did our job. Safe travel to our fans, you guys did well.”
Manchester United star Jesse Lingard, who was left out of this England squad, also Tweeted on the incident.
He wrote: “Every one of those England boys are stronger than those who chose to destroy the beautiful game!
“Uefa must do something about this! #Shameful.”
Rio Ferdinand added: “Will there even be punishment? What type of punishment…
“Will this show us how serious racism is taken by the powers that be? #NoToRacism.”
“It is probably because the fans were unhappy with the way the team was performing,” he said.
“I personally did not hear the chanting.”
Southgate chats to the referee and Uefa delegate after racist chanting and Nazi salutes in Sofia[/caption]
Tyrone Mings, who was abused with monkey chants and reported it, walks off the pitch at half-time[/caption]
At half-time, ITV pundits Ian Wright, Lee Dixon and Roy Keane condemned the sick abuse.
Former Arsenal star Dixon said: “They’re coach is there with his hands out – this has to be stamped out. Gareth is going right down the line with this, as he should do.”
Keane added: “You feel sick to your stomach. It’s horrible. Physically sick listening to that.”
Wright then said: “That says everything you need to know about Uefa.
“We’re looking at a stadium where half of it is closed with banners. They’ve done nothing.
“That’s the extent of what they feel they’ve done to combat racism in this country.
“We’ve seen a set of people there that have got no respect, are not bothered about it. It just goes to show Uefa for what they are.
“They’re not doing nowhere near enough. I’m so proud we’re doing what we’re doing.
“Roy says you can feel physically sick but you have to continue playing through that.
“What you’re seeing now is that you don’t. It’s a great day, whatever anyone says.
“It’s a terrible day for the Bulgarian people and how they’re represented.
“But it’s a great day in respect of tackling racism because we can see over that stand with those banners that mean nothing.
“What we’ve seen is a set of fans that do not care and need educated. And that’s what’s got to happen.
“As a black player, we’ve heard it for many years about walking off and it’s something that you do not want to do.
“You want the white players to do that for you so you can go off together because you’re a team together. When you do that and you can see how powerful it is, it can do something.”
Chris Kamara wrote on social media: “Please don’t let the racists win.
“Do not call this game off.”
Harry Kane also scored in the 6-0 win as England took a major step to securing Euro 2020 qualification[/caption]
Uefa have a three-step protocol for dealing with racism at matches.
The first is for the referee to ask the stadium announcer to demand supporters stop.
If it continues, the referee can take the players off the pitch and into the dressing room, while another announcement is made.
If that does not stop the abuse, the match will then be abandoned.
Needing a win to secure their place – pus other results going their way – at Euro 2020 next summer, England were in cruise control by half-time.
Rashford had scored an excellent goal early on, before Ross Barkley scored twice.
Just before the break – and after enduring the sick abuse – Sterling tapped home from close range to silence the crowd.
The winger then added another after half-time, capping off a sweeping move from close range.
Skipper Kane then added a late sixth.
But England have not yet secured their place at next summer’s competition, Kosovo beat Montenegro leaving Southgate’s team needing one more positive result.
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Kane called on Uefa to investigate – and even suggested that football should be banned in Bulgaria.
He said: “It’s disappointing and I’m extremely proud of togetherness we showed.
“The lads decided to stay out and wanted to play and carry on. The performance was outstanding and 6-0 is a really good response from the other night, but it’s dampened by certain people from the crowd.
“Racism is unacceptable in society and I hope the strongest possible action is taken.
“That’s what Uefa are there for. Whether they should be allowed to have games in their country for the time being… maybe that’s a step forward.
“I’m hurt because my friends have to go through it.
“We have to work together as a nation and with Uefa to find the best possible solution to stamp it out once and for all.”