Bulgarian FA boss slams England again over voicing racism concerns
By Lyall Thomas
Last Updated: 10/10/19 6:47pm
The Bulgarian FA president has slammed England again for voicing concerns over potential fan racism at the European Qualifier on Monday.
Borislav Mihaylov, who wrote to UEFA last month after England boss Gareth Southgate raised fears over the clash in Sofia, has sent another open letter to general secretary Theodore Theodoridis and other officials.
In it he claims recent comments by England players such as Tammy Abraham - that England are prepared to take action if subjected to racist chanting in a match - are an affront to Bulgaria's attempts to tackle the problem.
His letter comes as FARE - Football Against Racism in Europe - will send anti-racism 'spotters' into the crowd because they deem the fixture as high-risk for discriminatory behaviour.
The Group A game is already being played partially behind closed doors after UEFA punished Bulgaria for fans' racism during matches against Czech Republic and Kosovo earlier this year.
But Mihaylov said: "We at the Bulgarian Football Union feel that this fixation on potential incidents ... does not do justice to the Bulgarian supporters, the general public and to the extreme efforts and measures that the BFU has taken in order to ensure a fair and safe environment for what we believe to be a true footballing spectacle.
"Furthermore, we believe that such behaviour is completely out of line with the UEFA #FootballPeople weeks, a noble cause that the Bulgarian national team and the BFU have taken an active part in.
"Although we are aware of the recent problems with racist behaviour in all tiers of English club football and with England's ongoing battle with hooliganism, and although we sincerely applaud the FA's initiative for the English fans to report trouble within the visiting crowd, we are extremely shocked at all efforts to involve and even mark out the Bulgarian spectators as potential troublemakers.
"The Bulgarian public has in no way committed any recent infringements that deserve it to be stereotyped as "racist" or "hostile" - and I am sure you will agree that these accusations are not only unjust but are continuous attempts to disrupt the atmosphere before a very much anticipated game of football.
"I, as president of the Bulgarian Football Union, cannot allow for such derogatory claims to continue being spread in the mass media and I strongly suggest that the UEFA administration take measures against the build-up of unnecessary tension in the weeks devoted to equality and to the celebration of football."