Bulgarian FA chief blasts England for raising concerns over fan racism at Euro 2020 qualifier again


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The Bulgarian FA president has hit out at England for again voicing concerns over potential fan racism at the Euro 2020 Qualifier on Monday night.

Borislav Mihaylov wrote to UEFA last month after England boss Gareth Southgate raised fears over the clash in Sofia, expressing his anger at the ‘groundless, inappropriate and unnecessary’ comments.

Gareth Southgate angered Bulgarian FA president Borislav Mihaylov with his comments on racism last month

Getty Images – Getty

Gareth Southgate angered Bulgarian FA president Borislav Mihaylov with his comments on racism last month

Mihaylov has since 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 the Three Lions are prepared to stage a walk-off if subjected to racist chanting – 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.

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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.

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“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.”

The former Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Marin Raykov, is confident there will be no incidents of racism during England’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia.

Marin Raykov was Bulgaria’s acting PM for two months in 2013

AFP – Getty

Marin Raykov was Bulgaria’s acting PM for two months in 2013

Joining talkSPORT on Monday, Raykov says he will support the Three Lions’ stance if they walk off the pitch should the players be racially abused on Monday night.

“Of course I will [support them],” he told Jim White on talkSPORT. “I would do the same thing.

“It is unacceptable. I remain optimistic that we will follow this match with a lot of emotion, of course, and a lot of mutual respect.”


talkSPORT will bring you full LIVE commentary of both England’s upcoming matches, against Czech Republic on Friday and Bulgaria three days later.


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Chris Wright

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