Thu, Oct 17, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Bulgaria coach apologizes to England for racist fans

Reuters, SOFIA

Four people reportedly arrested on charges related to disturbances at Monday’s Bulgaria-England soccer match, stand in a police station in Sofia yesterday.

Photo: AP

Bulgaria coach Krasimir Balakov has apologized to the England team after fans taunted their black players with Nazi salutes and monkey chants during a Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia on Monday.

England thrashed Bulgaria 6-0 to hand the hosts their heaviest-ever home defeat, but the game will be remembered more for the racist incidents that led to action being temporarily stopped in the first half.

European soccer’s ruling body UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Bulgaria over the racist behavior.

While Balakov said after the game that he had not heard any racist abuse from the stands, in an e-mail to reporters late on Tuesday he apologized for the fans’ behavior.

“I strongly condemn and reject racism as a norm of conduct that contradicts modern human relations,” Balakov said. “This is a prejudice that comes from the past that must be eradicated forever. I want to say something very clear: Given that there have been insults on such a basis, I, as a coach of the national team, apologize to the English footballers and all those who feel hurt.”

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