UEFA closes Bulgaria stadium for fan racism at England game

A player holds a banner with an anti-racism slogan “No to Racism”. (File photo: AFP)

Bulgaria has been punished for the Nazi salutes and racist chanting of its football fans with an order to play a European Championship qualifying game in an empty stadium, although the team avoided expulsion from the competition.

UEFA’s options to deal with the incidents in Sofia at a Euro 2020 qualifier against England could have removed Bulgaria from the playoffs in March.

UEFA says its disciplinary panel also put Bulgaria on probation for two years. A repeat offense will trigger a stadium closure for a second competitive game.

Bulgaria fans made Nazi salutes and targeted monkey noises at England’s black players during a 6-0 loss two weeks ago. The game was twice stopped by the referee following UEFA guidelines to address discrimination.

The Bulgarian soccer federation was fined 85,000 euros ($94,000), including the mandated 50,000 euros ($55,500) for a second charge of racist behavior.

Although the England game was the third time Bulgaria fans were guilty of racist behavior this year, the previous incidents at back-to-back Euro 2020 qualifiers in June were judged together in July.

UEFA’s disciplinary code states a team will be punished for a second offense with “one match played behind closed doors and a fine of 50,000 euros.”

Bulgaria’s next home game is against the Czech Republic on November 17.
 

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 14:05 - GMT 11:05
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