Boyko Borisov has ordered Borislav Mihaylov to step down from his role after disgusting scenes in the stands during a Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia
Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borisov has ordered the president of the country’s Football Association, Borislav Mihaylov, to resign in the wake of the shameful racism which marred a Euro 2020 qualifying clash with England.
Monday’s contest in Sofia had to be halted on two occasions during the first half as the actions of certain home supporters saw visiting players and staff subjected to vile abuse.
UEFA protocols now dictate that the match officials have the authority to suspend play and ultimately abandon the game in such circumstances.
The first two steps of a three-step plan were implemented in the Bulgarian capital, with a tannoy announcement calling for an end to the racist chanting followed by a break in the game shortly before half-time.
Ultimately, the decision was taken to finish the match, with a number of supporters ejected from the ground.
Bulgarian football finds itself back at the centre of another racism storm, though, and the actions of leading figures within its football association have done little to improve their image.
FA president Mihaylov stated ahead of Monday night’s game, amid fears that such scenes would come to pass, that he considered the accusations to be “offensive and derogatory”, with the criticism aimed at Bulgarian fans branded “unjust”.
National team coach Krasimir Balakov then claimed after the match to have not heard any racist chanting, saying “the unacceptable behaviour was by England fans”.
Bulgarian PM Borisov has now stepped in and called for much-needed change, with the nation’s FA warned that it will receive no more funding until certain figures have been removed from the fold.
Bulgarian minister for sport, Krasen Kralev, said in a statement: “A little while ago, the prime minister called me urgently. You know that in the last four years, the government has done a lot for the development of Bulgarian football.
“But, after the recent events, having in mind the whole state of football, after yesterday’s incidents, the prime minister has ordered me from today to suspend any relations with the football union, including financial ones, until the resignation of Borislav Mihaylov.”
That news has been welcomed by England star Raheem Sterling, who was among those targeted in Sofia, alongside Tyrone Mings and Marcus Rashford.
The Manchester City forward posted on social media: “A good move credits to you M. Borisov.”
Borisov has been taking action after Balakov told ITV: “I personally did not hear the chanting you are most probably referring to. I saw that the referee stopped the game.
“But I also have to say the unacceptable behaviour was not only on behalf of the Bulgaria fans but also the England fans who were whistling and shouting during the Bulgaria national anthem and during the second half they used words against our fans which I find unacceptable.
“To be honest this has not happened to us before. The disciplinary measures by UEFA were not because of racist chanting but because of a banner from an organisation which has been not forbidden by Bulgarian law.
“We have had this problem since England were going to come to Bulgaria. For three weeks I have heard anything else but football and I don’t think this has been the proper manner to prepare and play a football game because over three weeks everybody was talking about one thing.
“If this turns out to be true, we are truly sorry. The Bulgaria national team and the Bulgaria football union are working very hard and no one wants to see this.
“But let me tell you this really has never happened before in our games up until now.
“If something can be proven, then we are sorry but we cannot speak on behalf of some fans.”
Bulgaria had already been stung with a partial stadium closure on the back of previous misdemeanours.
Many are now calling for harsher punishments to be handed out by the relevant authorities, with ex-England striker Ian Wright among those hoping that the right path has been now being taken.
Three Lions captain Harry Kane also believes that things are heading in the right direction after Gareth Southgate’s side took a stand.
He said: “Whether the UEFA protocol has been strong enough, I am not sure.
“Whether any racial abuse should be allowed at any time… well it shouldn’t be.
“The protocol at the moment allows there to be an announcement and two or three steps before the players are taken off the pitch.
“It has been unacceptable to be racist once so I feel there can be stronger punishments and protocols but from our point of view as a team, we stuck together, showed unity and did what we had to and that has been the most important thing.”