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PFA, Kick It Out And Others Criticise UEFA’s ‘Soft’ Punishment On Bulgaria After Racial Abuse
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PFA, Kick It Out And Others Criticise UEFA’s ‘Soft’ Punishment On Bulgaria After Racial Abuse

Felix Egbomuche

Felix Egbomuche

The European football governing body, UEFA, has ordered Bulgaria to play two matches behind closed doors - one suspended for two years - as a sanction for their fans' racist abuse of England players during a Euro 2020 qualifier game.

The Three Lions smashed six past their host in Sofia but the match was stopped twice after fans made the Nazi salute and monkey chants at England players.

The game could have been abandoned, but the visitors chose to play on and now UEFA has taken action against Bulgaria by fining them 75,000 euros (£65,000) and ordering them to play their next game behind closed doors.

Those sanctions have, however, been criticised by anti-racism charity ‘Kick it Out’, and the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA).

The decision, according to Kick It Out, wasn't "surprising" as they opined that UEFA "missed an opportunity to send an uncompromising message on racism and discrimination."

"The current sanctions, however 'tough' UEFA think they may be, are clearly not working and leave victims with little faith in their ability to prevent abusive behaviour, " a part of the statement by Kick it Out read.

"We feel UEFA's entire disciplinary process in response to racial discrimination should be overhauled, and urge them to explain the decision-making process behind their sanctions for incidents of discrimination."

Bulgaria was already serving a partial two-game ban in that match after they were found guilty of racist behaviour in matches against the Czech Republic and Kosovo in June.

That essentially is the reason the PFA has asked for UEFA's guidelines to be "overhauled" and "far stronger deterrents imposed."

The PFA further suggested that teams should be expelled from competitions, as that is the only way "the issue of racism can be seriously confronted."

"This lack of diversity, we believe, will influence the way in which racist incidents are dealt with by the panel. Diversity on the pitch must be reflected at every level of the game, not just on the field of play," the PFA said while calling for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) representation on UEFA's control, ethics and disciplinary committee.

Liverpool and England’s under-21 forward, Rhian Brewster, also reacted to the sanction with a tweet, tagging the punishment as "embarrassing."

Brewster, who was racially abused in a UEFA Youth League game against Spartak Moscow in December 2017 wrote: "Two Games behind closed doors for Nazi salutes and racism. The world needs to wake up."

PFA, Kick It Out And Others Criticise UEFA’s ‘Soft’ Punishment On Bulgaria After Racial Abuse

12 arrests have been made since the match after authorities in Bulgaria identified 16 suspects. Four of those people have been fined and given two-year bans, while the others remain under investigation.

Both the President of the Bulgaria Football Union (BFU), Borislav Mihaylov, and Bulgaria Manager, Krasimir Balakov, resigned after the game.