That night in Sofia: embarrassment, shame and visceral revulsion

first_img Twitter Share on Messenger Pinterest Twitter Pinterest Facebook THE STATE OF ITThe Fiver preferred it when Borislav Mihaylov was best known in this country for his funny little syrup. Now he will probably be remembered as the face of a governing body that made itself the embarrassment of world football before, during and after Monday night’s match against England. Mihaylov, the president of the Bulgarian Football Union, has resigned in response to the large-scale racist abuse that completely overshadowed England’s 6-0 win in Sofia. He was given little option by the Bulgarian prime minister. “It is unacceptable that Bulgaria – which is one of the most tolerant states in the world and where people of different ethnic and religious background peacefully live together – should be associated with racism,” tweeted Boyko Borissov, before suggesting that Mihaylov might wish to consider an alternative career path at his earliest convenience.Mihaylov had written an open letter to Uefa last week, criticising England for responding to questions about how they would react to any racist abuse during the game. Their stance was put to the test, wearyingly and inevitably, with the match halted twice in the first half after England players complained about a spectrum of abuse including monkey chants and Nazi salutes. The collection of wrong’uns congregating behind one goal, in particular, looked like they had been teleported to the match from the Stone Age. Share on WhatsApp Derby County pair Tom Lawrence and Mason Bennett have avoided prison after they admitted drink-driving in a crash that left Richard Keogh seriously injured. “You are both intelligent and talented young men who have brought shame upon yourselves, your family, your profession and your club,” said district judge Jonathan Taaffe.Paul Gascoigne wept as he denied sexually assaulting a woman on a train, claiming he wanted to boost her confidence after she was called “fat and ugly”. The trial continues.Turkey’s players have defied Uefa with a military salute in their 1-1 draw with France on Monday, three days after they made the same gesture during a 1-0 win over Albania. The salutes are understood to be in support of Turkey’s military in Syria – another footballer has been released from German club St Pauli for posting similar messages of support online. As expected, North and South Korea played out a goalless World Cup qualifier, but fans were left in the dark with Pyongyang refusing to broadcast the game live. North Korea had promised to provide footage of the match on DVD, the South’s unification ministry said. “We would need time for technical checks, but despite some delays, our people will be able to watch the game,” said a ministry official.Southend have scrapped plans to appoint Henrik Larsson as their manager.And Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored 700 career goals.RECOMMENDED LISTENINGFootball Weekly is right here, yo.STILL WANT MORE?Barney Ronay describes the vile Sofia spectacle that will live in sporting infamy, while Paul MacInnes praises Tyrone Mings’s composure on and off the pitch.Darren Tullet gets his chat on with Thomas Tuchel about, inevitably, Neymar, PSG’s expectations of success and life in Paris. Share on LinkedIn Reuse this content Topics The Fiver Most Bulgarians were ashamed. The captain, Ivelin Popov, spent half-time appealing to the better nature of some of the home supporters. His coach, Krassimir Balakov, meanwhile, achieved the rare feat of having his fingers in his ears while his head was in the sand. “If our captain spoke to the fans, it was probably because of the way the team was performing, and the whole topic in the build-up to the game,” he said, putting the crass in Krassimir. “I didn’t hear anything. If something happened, I’m sure it was a small group of people who were really were out of their minds because it was unacceptable, if it happened of course. I also have to say the unacceptable behaviour was not only on the behalf of Bulgarian fans but also the English fans, who were whistling and chanting during the national anthem and used words against our fans in the second half which I found unacceptable.” England fans called the home supporters “racist ba$tards” via the medium of song.The goalkeeper, Plamen Iliev, also said the home fans “behaved well” and that England “overreacted”. The reality, of course, is that England and everyone else have underreacted to racism in football for decades. It soon became clear on Monday, however, after the visceral revulsion, that a precedent had been set and something profound had occurred. “I’m incredibly proud of the players and all the staff,” said Gareth Southgate. “It’s such a difficult area as not everyone will agree we’ve gone far enough but I still believe we’ve made a huge statement. The game was stopped twice – I don’t believe that’s happened in international football.”Whatever England do under Southgate, they have surely left a legacy as a team who did more than pay lip service to the fight against racism – not just in Bulgaria, but in England and everywhere else; 14 October 2019 already feels like one of the more significant dates in the history of the England national team. Of course, the most famous moment in English football occurred when some people were on the pitch, thinking it was all over. On Monday night, another landmark moment occurred when some players weren’t on the pitch. And while nobody thinks racism is all over, we can only hope it took one hell of a beating.LIVE ON BIG WEBSITEJoin Will Unwin from 7.45pm for hot clockwatch coverage of the day’s Euro 2020 qualifiers.QUOTE OF THE DAY10 January 2002: “What a relief it must be for [Tony] Blair to get out of England. It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies … They say he is shortly off to the Congo. No doubt the AK47s will fall silent, and the pangas will stop their hacking of human flesh, and the tribal warriors will all break out in watermelon smiles to see the big white chief touch down in his big white British taxpayer-funded bird” – Boris Johnson in the Telegraph.15 October 2019: “Uefa needs to face up to facts. This stain on football is not being adequately dealt with. Racism and discrimination must be driven out of football once and for all” – Boris Johnson’s official spokesman, there.FIVER LETTERS“I don’t understand. Mike Hall’s indifference to this email (yesterday’s Fiver letters) cannot be real. If he was truly indifferent, he would not have been able to summon the effort to re-sign to The Fiver” – Steve Burton.“Has Mike re-signed to receive The Fiver, or is he simply resigned to getting it again? Join the club” – Mike Wilner.Send your letters to [email protected] And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our letter o’the day is … Rollover, so no copies of Per Mertesacker: Big Friendly German. We’ll give more away all week.NEWS … AND ONE BIT AND ONE BOBIn what is quite a day for the Bulgarian Football Union, more than 20 police officers swept into its headquarters in Sofia on Tuesday afternoon. “I can confirm the presence of police officers but I can’t provide more details at the moment,” tooted a BFU spokeswoman.center_img Soccer BFU HQ, earlier. Photograph: STR/AP Tommy T and Neymar. Photograph: Christophe Petit-Tesson/EPA-EFE Share via Email Read more Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Pinterest Suzanne Wrack wonders whether Arsenal’s small squad will hinder their WSL challenge this season.The key for Liverpool now is learning to win from the front, warns Paul Wilson.Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!SQUIRES IS ON HOLIDAY, IF YOU WERE WONDERING England’s vile and disturbing night in Sofia will live long in sporting infamy features Facebook last_img

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