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.