Football

England Players React To Horrible Racist Abuse In Bulgaria

England Players React To Horrible Racist Abuse In Bulgaria

A much changed team and a 6-0 win to respond to their first qualifier defeat in ten years should have been the headlines from England's trip to Bulgaria last night.

Unfortunately that is very much secondary to the scenes surrounding the game. The referee twice stopped the match in response to the racist abuse of England players. After consultations with the England management and team, and after warnings to the crowd, the game eventually continued. Many areas of the ground in Sofia had already been closed off by UEFA in response to previous racist behaviour in Bulgaria's games against the Czech Republic and Kosovo.

While England have been widely praised to their handling of the situation, it has brought calls for UEFA to examine their protocols and declare a lot harsher punishments for this kind of fan behaviour.

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Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings, making his England debut last night, first reacted to the abuse early in the game, and told the BBC after the game he could hear it "as clear as day". TV viewers saw Mings asking the linesman, "Did you hear that?"

He told the BBC of his mindset after the game.

I am proud of how we dealt with it and took the appropriate steps. I could hear it as clear as day. It doesn't affect me too much. I feel more sorry for those people who feel they have to have those opinions.

It was a great night for me personally. It was a really proud moment in my career. I hope everyone enjoys this moment and it isn't overshadowed.

Other England players also reacted to the incident on social media. Raheem Sterling, who scored twice in the game, was particularly strong in reacting the the Bulgarian coach's strange assertion that English fans were the real issue.

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Manager Gareth Southgate also took the opportunity to bring up the fact that racism is far from an isolated problem of Eastern European football stadiums, something the FA representatives have also been quick to bring up in interviews since the game.

The players were all absolutely adamant they wanted to keep playing but also we knew, if there was anything in the second half, we’d be reporting it and coming off.

Sadly, because of their experiences in our own country, they are hardened to racism.

I don’t know what that says about our society but that’s the reality. It actually saddens me. So they actually are in the dressing room smiling because they’ve played so well.

Meanwhile, Brian Kerr, doing punditry on the game for Virgin Media Sport, spoke about the role of UEFA in stomping out this kind of behaviour for good.

 

SEE ALSO: The Balls.ie Football Show - Can Ireland Beat Switzerland?

 

 

Michael McCarthy

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