England's football team had the perfect response to racism by Bulgarian fans during their Euro 2020 qualifying match last night.
Despite sections of the ground being closed in Sofia as punishment for previous racist incidents by Bulgarian supporters, yesterday’s match had to be stopped twice as fans were warned about monkey chants and Nazi salutes from the crowd.
However, the England players didn’t let the abuse affect their play and responded by trouncing a desperately poor Bulgaria side 6-0.
One player who stood out was Tyrone Mings - who responded professionally and gracefully in the face of targeted abuse during his England debut.
Another was Raheem Sterling - who scored two of England’s six goals and appeared to relish the opportunity to demolish the Bulgarian team.
Sterling also had some words for Bulgaria’s coach Krasimir Balakov after the manager tried to claim that England has a bigger problem with racism last week.
However, there was no contrition from Balakov as he was still trying to claim that his fans had not been racist last night.
After the match, he said:
I personally did not hear the chanting.
I saw the referee stopped the game but I also have to say the behaviour was also not only on behalf of the Bulgarian fans but also the English fans, who were whistling and shouting during the Bulgarian national anthem.
He added that he would be “truly sorry” if the accusation of racism “turns out to be true”...
There were no racist incidents by English fans reported during the match - instead the Three Lions supporters pushed back against racism from the Bulgarian stands.
At least one Bulgaria player tried to stop their fans though - as captain Ivelin Popov confronted the home supporters at half-time.
Regardless, there’s no place for the sort of behaviour witnessed last night in football (or anywhere).