SOFIA (Reuters) – The Euro 2020 qualifier between Bulgaria and England was temporarily halted by the match referee on Monday under a three-step protocol to tackle racist abuse from the crowd.
The UEFA protocol involves the referee first halting play and making an announcement to the supporters to immediately stop racist behaviour.
The second step sees the match suspended for some time and both teams sent to the dressing room if the abuse continues, with another warning given to the fans. In the third and final step, the referee decides to abandon the match.
England were leading Bulgaria 4-0 at halftime in the Group A match.
Britain’s Sky Sports television said racist chanting was heard from the stands and reported by England players to manager Gareth Southgate, with the referee informed and a public announcement made.
The second step was carried out after a further complaint was made by Southgate.
Sky Sports reporter Rob Dorsett said he had heard monkey chants on six occasions when England players Tyrone Mings, on his debut, and Marcus Rashford were in possession of the ball.
“I heard one fan clearly shout “Hey, monkey” as Mings passed the ball,” he said.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris)