England players suffered shocking racist abuse last night as their convincing Euro 2020 win in Bulgaria was shamefully overshadowed.
Gareth Southgate’s side discussed the possibility of walking off and abandoning last night game after players were victims of sickening abuse from home fans during England’s 6-0 win at the Vasil Levski Stadium - but decided to finish the game so not to let the racists win.
Speaking immediately after the game, Football Association chairman Greg Clarke said: ‘What a disappointing night. I mean it’s probably one of the most appalling nights I’ve seen in football.
England boss Gareth Southgate called for sanctions after his players suffered racist abuse
‘I spoke with Gareth [Southgate] and Harry [Kane], before the game, when we were still in the Czech Republic and we discussed how we’d handle it.
‘I sat up in the stands and as soon as the interval was called by the referee, I went down. And, I talked to Gareth [Southgate] at half time to establish the facts, he said: “The players heard monkey chanting.”
‘They reported to the ref, the ref came over and stopped the game [to make an] announcement. Then it happened again. The ref said to Gareth, “Do you want to go off?” Gareth said: “No, we are four minutes out, let’s get to half time and let me talk to the players.”
‘He talked to the players at half time and they got together and they said, “No, we want to play, we want to finish, we want to win the game, we don’t want the racists to win!”
‘I heard examples of appalling rascist chanting. I was looking at a group of people, plaid in all black - about 50 of them - who were making what looked like political fascist gestures.’
FA chairman Greg Clarke also slammed the behaviour and insisted it would be investigated
The FA now expect UEFA to open an investigation, with representatives from English football’s governing body taking statements from members of the team and staff ahead of submitting their report of last night’s shocking events.
Southgate spent the moments after the final whistle checking on the welfare of his players after a emotional night in Sofia.
The England boss said: ‘I have to say that the officials were onto everything very quickly we reported everything very quickly we had constant communication with the referee and I was in contact with players all the way through the first half and at half time.
‘We know it is an unacceptable statement We have managed to make two statements by winning the games and have raised awareness to everybody.
‘We stopped the game twice which we know to some people won’t be enough.’
England instigated step one of UEFA’s three point protocol in the event of racism in the stadium during a match after Tyrone Mings, on his international debut, complained