England absolutely destroyed Bulgaria 6-0 in their Group A Euro 2020 qualifier to take a step closer to sealing qualification but the result was completely overshadowed by the dark clouds of racism in what was a night of grimly unprecedented sequences in Sofia.
That the game was already being played in a partially closed stadium was a stark reminder of how deep the problem of racism runs in football and, of course, in the society as a whole. In the end, The Three Lions got themselves back to winning ways in their qualification campaign but not before a lot of drama had taken place.
Tyrone Mings and Marcus Rashford were subjected to disgraceful monkey chanting whenever they had the ball at their feet and the sequence of events reached a flashpoint at the 27th-minute mark when Mings signalled to his teammates to stop the game.
This was the first time that UEFA’s three-step protocol for dealing with racism during games was enacted after England captain Harry Kane made a complaint to the referee regarding the repeated monkey chanting noises from a raucous home crowd.
For the first time in the history of the beautiful game, a public announcement was made in the stadium to stop the racist behaviour from the fans and, while that only led to more complications, things somewhat improved after Bulgaria skipper Ivelin Popov ran to the home crowd to argue about the gravity of the situation.
The English players, of course, answered those racist chants with a complete demolition of the home side, however, one cannot help but wonder as to when serious steps will be taken to eradicate racism from football.
Despite FIFA’s ‘Kick It Out’ campaign gaining widespread media attention, discrimination in football stadiums and on the pitch have continued to tarnish the image of the beautiful game and it is imperative to say that such disgraceful behaviour has no place in any sport.
In the wake of England’s racism-affected game against Bulgaria last night, let us take a look at 3 recent incidents when racism has played a part:-
Tammy Abraham has grabbed the headlines on numerous occasions as one of the most impressive breakout stars in the Premier Leauge this season but the youngster has already had his fair share of struggles with racist behaviour from the fans.
The 21-year-old was subject to racist comments on social media in August after missing the decisive spot-kick in the UEFA Super Cup against Liverpool.
As well as that, the centre-forward revealed last month that his mother had cried after he had been subject to racist comments during a match.
Irish full-back Cyrus Christie accused a Fulham fan of assaulting his sister and his wife of using racist language to justify such an action during the Cottagers’ 1-0 defeat away at Barnsley on the opening day of the EFL Championship campaign this season.
Fulham promised to take the strongest possible action if the perpetrator was identified, although nothing have come of it thus far.
The Frenchman was subjected to widespread racial abuse on social media after missing a penalty in Man United’s 1-1 draw against Wolves in August. The action was condemned by several ex-United stalwarts, including Ryan Giggs.
Twitter revealed that they would send their representatives to meet with Man United and the ‘Kick It Out’ organisation after Phil Neville called for a social media boycott.
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