England were on routine when they beat Bulgaria 6-0 in Sofia in their Euro 2020 qualifiers. Sterling, Barkley and Kane were on the score sheet as usual. But It was racism that made the headlines in the game.
England who has many black players with the likes of Rashford, Mings, Sterling, Abrahams among many others had warned that should they hear any racist chants during any of the games, they would walk off the pitch.
It so happened that the English players were absolutely serious with their remarks in that when they heard the first racist chants in the opening 20 minutes of the game, team captain Harry Kane was seen walking up to the referee to indicate that his teammates were being racially abused and that they were ready to walk off the pitch if nothing was done.
The stadium announcer was then heard telling the fans to behave and stop making any racist chants least the game would be halted. This was such a big step towards getting rid of racism.
With only 4 minutes to the end of the first half, the game was again halted and the England manager was seen in consultation with the 4th official who is also believed to have been in communication with an official from UEFA as they looked for a decision. But the England camp agreed to finish the first half.
During the break, over 50 fans in black hoodies were seen matching out of the stadium. The entire second half was played with no racist chants being made.
In light of what happened last night, the Prime Minister of Bulgaria has called for the resignation of the president of the Bulgarian FA for trying to blame the visitors for igniting the racist chants at the stadium yesterday.
Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov says the government will freeze all relations with the Bulgarian FA – including denying them any funding – until Mikhailov steps down.
Mikhailov, who is also a member of UEFA’s executive committee, spent the build-up to Monday’s Euro 2020 qualifier claiming England players including Tammy Abraham had been ‘offensive’ and derogatory’ in suggesting they could face racist abuse in Sofia.
The stance by the English officials and players will be looked at as a big example as they look for ways in which to overcome racism that has recently shown a huge face again in the game of football.
As of 4:00 PM, the president of the Bulgaria Football Association Mikhailov had resigned from his position following demands from the Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borisov.
This is a clear sign of intend from the Bulgarian government to join the fight against racism in football and in sports in general. The stance of the English players is paying off.
Author: Moses Echodu
Moses is a freelance writer for Newslibre and Programs Manager at the Craft Silicon Foundation. He loves writing about sports, politics and news around the globe and Inspiring new young people!!