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Sport Uefa to decide Bulgaria punishment for racist abuse in England qualifier
The Euro 2020 qualifier between Bulgaria and England was stopped twice under the new Uefa protocol for dealing with racismA Uefa disciplinary panel will meet on Monday to decide Bulgaria’s punishment for the racist abuse England players suffered during the Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia.Punishments range from a monetary fine to a stadium closure or…
A Uefa disciplinary panel will meet on Monday to decide Bulgaria’s punishment for the racist abuse England players suffered during the Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia.
Punishments range from a monetary fine to a stadium closure or even being thrown out of the competition.
England were 6-0 winners on 15 October, but the match was stopped twice for racist chanting by home supporters.
It could have been abandoned but England’s players decided to play on.
The president of the Bulgaria Football Union (BFU), Borislav Mihaylov, resigned the following day after Prime Minister Boyko Borissov called for him to quit.
Bulgaria manager Krasimir Balakov, who claimed not to have heard anything on the night, stood down a few days later.
Authorities in Bulgaria have so far identified 16 suspects and made 12 arrests after the England game.
Four supporters received fines and two-year bans, with others remaining under investigation.
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In terms of a stadium closure, they are already halfway through a partial two-game ban after being found guilty of racist behaviour in matches against the Czech Republic and Kosovo in June.
Of the 46,340 seats at Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia, 5,000 were blocked off for the game with England, while 3,000 are due to be blocked off for the return match with the Czech Republic on 17 November – their one remaining qualifier.
Bulgaria are bottom of Group A with three points from seven games and cannot qualify directly for next summer’s finals.
However, as things stand, they would be in line for a play-off spot due to their results in the League of Nations last year.
‘Sanctions and bans won’t change attitudes’
Before Monday’s disciplinary meeting, Ged Grebby, founder of anti-racism charity Show Racism the Red Card, has said education rather than severe penalties is the best way to try to tackle this problem within Bulgarian football.
“Ultimately unless they put more money into anti-racism education, all the sanctions in the world and all the bans in the world won’t change attitudes,” he told PA Sport.
“It would be simple to throw Bulgaria out of the tournament wouldn’t it? I notice the Bulgarians have already given out two-year banning orders.
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“If you want to give out a strong message, two years is not a strong message.
“I don’t like lifetime bans, you’re not leaving yourself open to changing attitudes. It has to involve education and it depends how they react to that education.”
As well as the charges of racism, Bulgaria face punishment for throwing objects, the disruption of a national anthem and showing replays on a giant screen.
England will also learn if they are sanctioned for the disruption of a national anthem and with providing insufficient stewards.
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