FOOTBALL RACISM SHAME: 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 - The Football Association

Monday 14th October 2019

THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION demand that UEFA investigate the racist chanting during The Three Lions' convincing 6-0 win over Bulgaria in Sofia in an European Championship qualifier tonight.

Vile thugs chanted racist abuse at England players’ Tyrone Mings – who was making his debut for the Three Lions – and striker Raheem Sterling during the game, that was halted twice and almost abandoned towards the end of the first half due to the abuse.

“We can confirm that England players were subject to abhorrent racist chanting while playing in the Euro 2020 qualifier against Bulgaria,” said a statement on Twitter from The Football Association immediately after the final whistle.

“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.”

England manager Gareth Southgate told ITV Sport: “I have to say that the officials’ were on to everything very quickly.  We reported everything immediately when we heard things.

“We had constant communication with the fourth official and the referee and I was in contact with the players all the way through the first half in particular and then again at half-time, so we know it’s an unacceptable situation.  

“I think we’ve managed to make two statements really by winning the game but also we have raised the awareness of everybody to the situation.

"The game was stopped twice and I know for some people that won’t be enough but I think we were, as a group, on board with that process.”    

Southgate’s men remain at the top of Group A but the action on the pitch seems secondary on this depressing night and racist abuse at all levels of the game all around the globe MUST be stamped out once and for all.

Kick It Out – English football’s equality and inclusion organisation - issued a statement on Monday night condemning the racist abuse and demand sterner punishments.

“We are sickened by the disgusting racist abuse directed at England men’s team tonight by Bulgaria supporters – including TV footage which appeared to show Nazi salutes and monkey noises.

“We applaud Gareth Southgate, his staff and players for the actions taken in reporting the abhorrent abuse, and offer our full support to the entire squad, their families and anyone affected by those appalling scenes.

“We are encouraged that the protocol was initially enforced by the match officials, but UEFA must explain why players weren’t sent to the dressing room during Step Two, as is clearly stated in the rules. TV footage also clearly shows that racist abuse continued in the second half, so it is unacceptable that Step Three was not enforced. This match should have been abandoned by the officials.

“It’s now time for UEFA to step up and show some leadership. For far too long, they have consistently failed to take effective action. The fact Bulgaria are already hosting this game with a partial stadium closure for racist abuse shows that UEFA’s sanctions are not fit for purpose.

“There can be no more pitiful fines or short stadium bans. If UEFA care at all about tackling discrimination – and if the Equal Game campaign means anything – then points deductions and tournament expulsion must follow.”

UEFA President Aleksander ńĆeferin underlines the commitment of European football's governing body to tackle racism.

UEFA issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon on its website "There were times, not long ago, when the football family thought that the scourge of racism was a distant memory.

"The last couple of years have taught us that such thinking was, at best, complacent. The rise of nationalism across the continent has fuelled some unacceptable behaviour and some have taken it upon themselves to think that a football crowd is the right place to give voice to their appalling views.

"As a governing body, I know we are not going to win any popularity contests. But some of the views expressed about UEFA's approach to fighting racism have been a long way off the mark. UEFA, in close cooperation with the FARE network (Football Against Racism Europe), instituted the three-stage protocol for identifying and tackling racist behaviour during games.

"UEFA's sanctions are among the toughest in sport for clubs and associations whose supporters are racist at our matches. The minimum sanction is a partial closure of the stadium – a move which costs the hosts at least hundreds of thousands in lost revenue and attaches a stigma to their supporters.

"UEFA is the only football body to ban a player for ten matches for racist behaviour – the most severe punishment level in the game. Believe me, UEFA is committed to doing everything it can to eliminate this disease from football. We cannot afford to be content with this; we must always strive to strengthen our resolve.

"More broadly, the football family – everyone from administrators to players, coaches and fans – needs to work with governments and NGOs to wage war on the racists and to marginalise their abhorrent views to the fringes of society. Football associations themselves cannot solve this problem. Governments too need to do more in this area. Only by working together in the name of decency and honour will we make progress."

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