Bulgaria player claims racist abuse against England was pre-planned

England's Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia twice halted during first half over racist abuse of players; Gareth Southgate and Harry Kane reveal England players opted to stay on pitch

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Sky Sports News' reporters Rob Dorsett and Kaveh Solhekol discuss the press reaction to England players being racially abused in Bulgaria

A Bulgarian player told the England squad that the racist abuse they endured in their European Qualifier in Sofia was pre-planned and coordinated, Sky Sports News has learned.

The player, who has not been named, felt he had to apologise to the England squad and explain what he knew after the match, which ended in a 6-0 win for the visitors.

Officials confirmed to Sky Sports News in the second half of the match that around 50 individuals, dressed all in black, were ejected from the stadium during the interval.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Jordan Henderson condemned the 'disgraceful' scenes in Sofia

The group are thought to be affiliated to a neo-Nazi political group and were seen giving Nazi salutes during the match.

As a result of their ejection, there was less widespread racist abuse of England's black players in the second half.

However, some monkey chants were still directed towards the England players from smaller pockets of Bulgarian fans.

UEFA has told Sky Sports News that its control, ethics and disciplinary body will wait to read the referee's match report and the report of the UEFA delegate before launching an investigation into the racist abuse.

Also See:

UEFA is also likely to consider observations from FARE anti-racism spotters who were at the game.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Bulgarian journalist Mtodi Shumanov says he is 'sad' about the racism which England’s players experienced during the Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia.

'Monkey chants, Nazi salutes'

Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol was part of the travelling media in Sofia and gave his account of what he saw and heard inside the stadium.

He said: "It seemed, especially in the first half, when any black England players got the ball they were subjected to abuse, racist abuse, monkey chants, Nazi salutes, the worst racism I've ever seen at a game.

"It was not all the supporters inside that stadium. By and large, a lot of Bulgarians are very well behaved and not racist, but the whole country was shamed tonight by some of their supporters.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Bulgaria head coach Krasimir Balakov claims he did not hear any racist chanting during Monday's match against England

"I'm not even sure they were football supporters. Some of the Bulgarian police told us they were neo-Nazis, people with balaclavas on, a lot of them wearing all black uniform.

"The Bulgarian police, at least in the first half, seemed to try to deal with the situation, to get these neo-Nazis out of the stadium.

"It has to be said in the second half the situation did calm down a bit but I was very close to the Bulgarian supporters and we still had the racist abuse, we still had monkey noises every time Raheem Sterling got the ball.

"When Jadon Sancho came on in the second half the first thing he heard were monkey chants aimed at him. It was a disgraceful night for Bulgarian football."

Bulgarian PM demands football chief resigns

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has called on the president of the country's football union to resign following the racist abuse that marred the Euro 2020 qualifier between Bulgaria and England.

Sports minister Krasen Kralev said he had received a call from Borissov on Tuesday ordering him to cut ties with the BFU until Borislav Mihaylov offers his resignation as head of Bulgarian football's governing body.

Raheem Sterling scores England's fifth goal in the win over Bulgaria
Image: Raheem Sterling scores England's fifth goal in the win over Bulgaria

"The prime minister called me urgently a short time ago," Kralev said.

"You know that the government has done a lot for the development of Bulgarian football in the last four years.

"But after the recent events, having in mind the whole state of football and last night's incidents, the prime minister has ordered me from today to suspend any relations with the BFU, including financial ones, until the resignation of Borislav Mihaylov."

The BFU was not immediately available to comment.

Around Sky