This evening, during England’s European Championship qualifier against Bulgaria, the game was temporarily halted as part of UEFA’s anti-racism protocol, after racist chanting from some Bulgarian fans. Like everyone watching, the PFA was disgusted by the racist abuse and visible provocation by a section of Bulgarian fans, 50 of whom were rightly ejected from the venue at half time.
We offer our support to England’s players, who showed restraint while dealing with such extreme circumstances. We also commend Gareth Southgate and his staff for their decisive action in initiating UEFA’s protocol. Once again, Southgate’s England team has shown leadership regarding this issue.
No one should have to suffer racist abuse at their place of work. It is right that action is taken to support those affected and make it clear that such behavior will not be tolerated. The game in Sofia was already being played to a reduced crowd as a consequence of previous racist abuse by Bulgarian fans. This was obviously not sufficient action to deal with the issue. Given the circumstances surrounding tonight’s game, the strongest action must now be taken by UEFA to ensure a clear message of zero tolerance.
Simone Pound, Head of Equalities, said: “We are proud of the England team and their manager's commitment to stand against such appalling behaviour.
“The three-step protocol is in place to ensure players have a support mechanism in the event of abuse on the field of play. The players were clear before the match that they were committed to taking a stance against racist chanting. For too many years, players have had to endure and tolerate such abuse. Ensuring that this protocol was enacted sends a strong and clear message. Enough is Enough.”