Bulgaria to host Euro qualifiers in empty stadium, fined over England racism

Bulgaria, England, racism, UEFA, Euro 2020 qualifiers, empty stadium, fined, football
This punishment will cost Bulgaria to play their final Euro 2020 qualifier at home to the Czech Republic, on November 17, in an empty stadium. Photo: PTI

After racist chanting by Bulgarian supporters during their Euro 2020 qualifier against England earlier this month, the team has been fined 75,000 euros and will play their next game behind closed doors, UEFA said on Tuesday (October 29).

The disciplinary arm of European football’s governing body also ordered Bulgaria to play a second match behind closed doors, but that punishment is suspended for a “probationary period” of two years.

This punishment will cost Bulgaria to play their final Euro 2020 qualifier at home to the Czech Republic, on November 17, in an empty stadium.

UEFA also ordered Bulgaria to display a banner with the wording “No to racism” at their next two home games.

The Bulgarian FA was also fined an additional 10,000 euros for “causing a disturbance during a national anthem” prior to kick-off of the game in Sofia on October 14, which England won 6-0. The English FA was fined 5,000 euros for the same offence.

Also read: Bulgaria awaits escalating UEFA punishment for racist fans

The match at the Vasil Levski Stadium was halted twice in the first half due to abuse from sections of the home support, including monkey chants and apparent Nazi salutes.

Despite the abuse, the England team opted to complete the match instead of walking off the pitch.

The game was played in a stadium already partially closed after racist incidents during games against Kosovo and the Czech Republic in June.

The incidents caused indignation in the football world and were condemned both by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borisov.

The subsequent fall-out led to Bulgaria coach Krasimir Balakov resigning along with the country’s FA chief, Borislav Mihaylov.

In the wake of the incidents, Bulgarian police said they had identified 16 people suspected of being involved in the “abusive actions”.

Bulgaria are winless in seven Euro 2020 qualifiers — losing four and drawing three — and occupy last place in Group A.

(With inputs from agencies)