UEFA Still Struggling with Racism

This week saw another outcry against UEFA for being unable to curb racism in the sport. Currently, the request is that teams should be held responsible for the action of the fans, but is that even a legitimate way of dealing with racism? The outcry is the result after a game between England and Bulgaria had to be stopped twice due to the crowds showing Nazi signs and making monkey chants to the black players representing England this week in Sofia.

Racist Abuse

A UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier game took place in Sofia between England and Bulgaria on Monday. During the game, the racist abuse from the fans of Bulgaria towards the black players in the English team became so bad that the game had to be halted at the 28th minute and again later on at the 43rd minute. The abuse was in the form of fascist salutes, and the crowds make monkey noises mocking the players. When the game was halted, the masses were told over the PA announcer that they need to stop their behaviour, but that did not affect them. During half time the coach of Bulgaria requested the crowd to stop their behaviour, but that too was without avail. Sporadically the groups could still be heard making monkey noises. England opted to complete the game, and they finished 6-0 in the end.

UEFA’s Rules Considering Racism

UEFA has a set number of rules which defines their anti-racism protocol. Announcing the PA system would be considered the first step to take against this kind of action. The second step is for the players to be taken off the pitch by the referee while another announcement is being made over the PA system. The third and final step is to stop play immediately and abandon the game. The criticism against UEFA for this lack or enforcing protocol is based on the fact that during this game, the referee never took any more steps beyond the first step, even though the racism and slurs didn’t stop afterwards.

Bulgaria’s Manager Completely Unaware

According to Krasimir Balakov, the manager of Bulgaria, he isn’t aware at all of anything that presumably happened. Yet because there were already 5 000 seats of the Levski National Stadium cordoned off before the game on Monday due to previous events where the Bulgaria fans were chanting racist slurs, it seems somewhat ignorant. During a match against Kosovo as well as one against the Czech Republic resulted in racism from the opposing team’s fans. Even before the game, the English team was asked about what action they would follow if something like this occurred. The reply was that they would probably walk off the field as a team. The Bulgarian officials were at that stage unhappy about the question even being asked to the English team since they considered it to be offensive also to suggest that it would happen.