England’s clash with Bulgaria was temporarily suspended after Raheem Sterling and Tyrone Mings were subjected to racist abuse.
England’s clash with Bulgaria was temporarily suspended after Raheem Sterling and Tyrone Mings were subjected to racist abuse.

‘A terrible day’: Nazi salutes stun football

ENGLAND'S game against Bulgaria was temporarily suspended twice after Raheem Sterling and Tyrone Mings were targeted with sick racist abuse by home fans.

Manchester City star Sterling was booed every time he touched the ball as he and Mings were subjected to disgusting monkey noises, while supporters inside the ground were seen doing Nazi salutes.

Mings made a complaint to the assistant referee and England captain Harry Kane with about 30 minutes played in Sofia. Turning to the linesman, Mings said: "Hey, did you hear that?"

Kane then went to Croatian referee Ivan Bebek and play stopped for five minutes as an announcement went out around the ground.

Following UEFA protocol, the referee told a delegate before an announcement was made to fans that the game would be suspended again or even abandoned if the chanting continued.

Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate took immediate action when he heard what was happening.
Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate took immediate action when he heard what was happening.

Just before half-time, the game was halted again, this time for around two minutes.

Bulgarian captain Ivelin Popov could be seen arguing with home supporters at the break, pleading with them to stop the monkey chants and abuse.

Pictures inside the ground showed Bulgarian fans, some dressed fully in black, doing Nazi salutes.

Incredible scenes. Picture: Nigel Keene/ProSports/Shutterstock
Incredible scenes. Picture: Nigel Keene/ProSports/Shutterstock

At half-time, ITV pundits Ian Wright, Lee Dixon and Roy Keane condemned the sick abuse.

Former Arsenal star Dixon said: "Their coach is there with his hands out - this has to be stamped out. Gareth is going right down the line with this, as he should do."

Keane added: "You feel sick to your stomach. It's horrible. Physically sick listening to that."

Wright then said: "That says everything you need to know about UEFA.

"We're looking at a stadium where half of it is closed with banners. They've done nothing.

"That's the extent of what they feel they've done to combat racism in this country.

"We've seen a set of people there that have got no respect, are not bothered about it. It just goes to show UEFA for what they are.

"They're not doing nowhere near enough. I'm so proud we're doing what we're doing.

"Roy says you can feel physically sick but you have to continue playing through that.

"What you're seeing now is that you don't. It's a great day, whatever anyone says.

"It's a terrible day for the Bulgarian people and how they're represented.

 

 

 

 

"But it's a great day in respect of tackling racism because we can see over that stand with those banners that mean nothing.

"What we've seen is a set of fans that do not care and need educated. And that's what's got to happen.

"As a black player, we've heard it for many years about walking off and it's something that you do not want to do.

"You want the white players to do that for you so you can go off together because you're a team together. When you do that and you can see how powerful it is, it can do something."

Chris Kamara wrote on social media: "Please don't let the racists win.

"Do not call this game off."

Tyrone Mings. Picture: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Tyrone Mings. Picture: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Needing a win to secure their place at Euro 2020 next summer, England were in cruise control by half-time.

Marcus Rashford had scored an excellent goal early on, before Ross Barkley scored twice.

Just before the break - and after enduring the sick abuse - Sterling tapped home from close range to silence the crowd. England went on to win 6-0.

UEFA has a three-step protocol for dealing with racism at matches.

The first is for the referee to ask the stadium announcer to demand supporters stop.

If it continues, the referee can take the players off the pitch and into the dressing room, while another announcement is made.

If that does not stop the abuse, the match will then be abandoned.

This story originally appeared in The Sun and was reproduced with permission.

 

Bulgarian fans gesture. Picture: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Bulgarian fans gesture. Picture: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

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Raheem Sterling leaves the pitch. Picture: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Raheem Sterling leaves the pitch. Picture: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images