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The match was brought to a half because of the behaviour of some fans at the stadium in Sofia

Bulgaria have been ordered to play two matches behind closed doors, one suspended for two years, and fined £65,000 over the racist behaviour of fans during the Euro 2020 qualifier against England on October 14, UEFA has announced.

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A section of supporters at the match in Sofia’s Levski Stadium directed racial abuse at England’s black players, while some were also seen making Nazi salutes.

The punishment does exceed the standard sanction for a second offence at a home match within a period of five years, which would normally be one match behind closed doors, but remains a strikingly paltry punishment given the level of abuse. 

The match was brought to a half because of the behaviour of some fans at the stadium in Sofia

The match was brought to a half because of the behaviour of some fans at the stadium in Sofia

Gareth Southgate and his England squad saw their match in Bulgaria temporarily suspended

Gareth Southgate and his England squad saw their match in Bulgaria temporarily suspended

Gareth Southgate and his England squad saw their match in Bulgaria temporarily suspended

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The sanction means Bulgaria’s qualifier against the Czech Republic on November 17 will be played behind closed doors.

As part of UEFA’s decision, a banner reading ‘NO TO RACISM’ must be on show during one of the matches played behind closed doors. 

In response to the punishment, which was met with derision, the Football Association said: ‘We sincerely hope the disgraceful scenes in Sofia are never repeated. 

Some fans inside the ground in Sofia could be seen making fascist salutes during the match

Some fans inside the ground in Sofia could be seen making fascist salutes during the match

Some fans inside the ground in Sofia could be seen making fascist salutes during the match

A fan in Sofia holds up a No Respect jumper, rubbishing UEFA's Respect campaign for equality

A fan in Sofia holds up a No Respect jumper, rubbishing UEFA's Respect campaign for equality

A fan in Sofia holds up a No Respect jumper, rubbishing UEFA’s Respect campaign for equality

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‘Our priority remains our players, support team and fans and we will do all we can to ensure they never have to endure such circumstances again. 

‘While we acknowledge UEFA’s ruling today, a huge challenge still exists around racism and discrimination in society. Football has its part to play, and must do so, but it is for all to recognise the seriousness of the problem

UEFA’S THREE-STEP PROTOCOL 

1 – The referee will speak to the stadium announcer and demand the halting of racist behaviour.

2 – If it continues, the referee can take the players off the field into the dressing rooms for a period of time and the stadium announcer will make another address.

3 – If it still continues, the match will be abandoned.

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‘While those responsible for such deplorable behaviour at home or abroad need to be held to account, we should not lose sight of the importance of education programmes in finding a long-term solution.

‘That has to be the way forward to help address the root cause of such disgusting behaviour. We are ready to build on our work with UEFA, Kick It Out and the FARE network in any positive way we can.’ 

Kick It Out added that they are ‘disheartened, but not surprised’ by UEFA’s verdict.

Their statement read: ‘We are disheartened, but not surprised, to learn of UEFA’s response to the racist abuse directed at England players. 

‘In our view, they have missed another opportunity to send an uncompromising message on racism and discrimination. 

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‘The current sanctions, however ‘tough’ UEFA think they may be, are clearly not working and leave victims with little faith in their ability to prevent abusive behaviour. 

‘We feel UEFA’s entire disciplinary process in response to racial discrimination should be overhauled, and urge them to explain the decision-making process behind their sanctions for incidents of discrimination.’  

Fans in black wore clothes which had 'ultras' and 'hooligans' printed on them at the stadium

Fans in black wore clothes which had 'ultras' and 'hooligans' printed on them at the stadium

Fans in black wore clothes which had ‘ultras’ and ‘hooligans’ printed on them at the stadium

Raheem Sterling, who has been crucial to anti-racism efforts, scored twice as England won 6-0

Raheem Sterling, who has been crucial to anti-racism efforts, scored twice as England won 6-0

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Raheem Sterling, who has been crucial to anti-racism efforts, scored twice as England won 6-0

Heading into the game against England, Bulgaria already had part of the stadium closed off for a previous offence of racial behaviour. 

Some home fans were seen making fascist salutes while monkey noises could be heard inside the ground. 

Southgate’s players stopped playing after Mings made an official complaint to the linesman and Three Lions captain Harry Kane after 28 minutes. 

Mings was heard saying: ‘Hey, did you hear that?’

Kane then went to Croatian referee Ivan Bebek with play stopped for six minutes before an announcement went out around the ground via the tannoy system – triggering phase one of the protocol.

President of the Bulgaria Football Union, Borislav Mihaylov, and Bulgaria boss Krasimir Balakov resigned as part of the fall-out from the game. 

Twelve arrests were made following England’s 6-0 win, with four supporters handed fines and two-year bans. 

The match, which England went on to win emphatically 6-0, was stopped on two separate occasions by the referee as part of UEFA’s new three-step protocol to combat racist abuse towards players. 

Following the game, which was overshadowed by the levels of abuse aimed at Sterling, Mings and Marcus Rashford, UK sports minister, Nigel Adams, wrote to the UEFA president, Aleksander Ceferin, asking him to take ‘urgent action’.  

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin will be met with criticism following the punishment verdict
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UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin will be met with criticism following the punishment verdict

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin will be met with criticism following the punishment verdict

Bulgaria manager Krasimir Balakov (centre) claimed he did not hear any racist chanting but given the backlash over the behaviour of supporters, he has since resigned from his position

Bulgaria manager Krasimir Balakov (centre) claimed he did not hear any racist chanting but given the backlash over the behaviour of supporters, he has since resigned from his position

Bulgaria manager Krasimir Balakov (centre) claimed he did not hear any racist chanting but given the backlash over the behaviour of supporters, he has since resigned from his position

BREAKDOWN OF EVENTS IN ENGLAND’S 6-0 WIN IN BULGARIA

  • The game was halted TWICE as home fans abuse black players, brandish ‘No Respect’ shirts and make Nazi salutes in planned racist onslaught 
  • Tyrone Mings reveals vile chants started before kick-off in Bulgaria 
  • Marcus Rashford praises ‘courage’ of Bulgaria captain Ivelin Popov for appealing to fans at half-time to stop racist taunting of England players 
  • England boss Gareth Southgate considered taking his players off the pitch against Bulgaria as FA chairman Greg Clarke condemns racist taunting 
  • Bulgaria boss Krasimir Balakov claimed not to have heard any chanting and said in his post-match press conference: ‘The unacceptable behaviour was by England fans.’
  • Ian Wright says England players taking action against racism made him ‘feel really good’ 
  • Raheem Sterling calls out Bulgaria coach Krasimir Balakov for saying England have a bigger racism problem than his own country and posts funny Ainsley Harriott meme in response to Piers Morgan hailing his performance in face of vile racist abuse 
  • UEFA will use evidence from specialist ‘spotters’ in the crowd and TV footage to prosecute after Bulgarian fans’ appalling racist taunts 
  • Bulgaria’s prime minister has called on the president of their FA to quit over the racist incidents 

As part of UEFA’s response to the qualifier, the Football Association were fined £4,300 after England fans booed the Bulgarian anthem.  

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Fans were quick to point out the leniency of the punishment, particularly the fine, with Leeds United’s £200,000 penalty by the FA for the ‘Spygate’ scandal putting it into context. 

Another example used was the £80,000 fine handed to Nicklas Bendtner by UEFA when he showed off Paddy Power-branded boxer shorts at Euro 2012. 

On Twitter user wrote: ‘Slap on the wrist. How many more times will countries like Bulgaria get away with this if the punishment isn’t a deterrent?’

Another targeted their anger directly at UEFA, adding: ‘What a joke the punishment for the racist behaviour in Bulgaria. Your institution needs to have a look within itself. This disgusting behaviour will just continue #NoRoomforRacism.’