FIFA President makes statement on shameful scenes in Bulgaria

Oct 15, 2019
FIFA President Gianni Infantino has called for “new, stronger and more effective ways to eradicate racism in football” after the shameful scenes in Bulgaria.
 
Infantino has also asked for all competition organisers to enact regulations which envisage lifetime bans from stadiums for racists, to prevent repeat performances.
 
The FIFA President issued the statement following England’s Euro 2020 qualifier with Bulgaria on Monday, which was marred by vile racist chanting and Nazi salutes from home fans.
 
UEFA confirmed disciplinary proceedings have been brought against Bulgaria on Tuesday, with the country’s football union being hit with four charges.
 
England, meanwhile, have also been hit with two charges.
 
Infantino said: “So many times we say there is no place for racism in football, but nonetheless we still face challenges to tackle this problem in our sport, as we do in society.
 
“We will need the support of public authorities to help us identify and punish the culprits but we probably also need to think more broadly on what we can do to fix this.
 
“When we proposed the three-step procedure in 2009 when I was at UEFA, and then made the regulations even tougher a few years later.
 
“We could not have imagined that so shortly thereafter we would again be having to think of how to combat this obnoxious disease that seems to be getting even worse in some parts of the world.
 
“I call on all football governing bodies to join us and think together of new, stronger and more effective ways to eradicate racism in football.
 
“As a starting point, I suggest that all competition organisers enact regulations which envisage life bans from stadiums for those who are found guilty of racist behaviour at a football match.
 
“FIFA can then enforce such bans at a worldwide level.”
 
Timeline of events on night of shame:
 
Pre-match warm-up: Tyrone Mings hears racist abuse from the stands for the first time
 
22 mins: Mings hears a monkey chant, turns to an assistant referee and says: “Did you hear that?”
 
27 mins: Game stopped for the first time. Captain Harry Kane discusses the abuse with referee Ivan Bebek.
 
29 mins: Stadium PA calls for an end to the racist taunts – Step one of the three-step protocol
 
31 mins: Match restarts
 
42 mins: Gareth Southgate makes a complaint to the fourth official and the game is stopped for the second time.
 
43 mins: A large group of Bulgarian fans, who had been seen chanting and making Nazi salutes leave the stand. England agree to restart the game as it is so close to half-time.
 
Half-time: Southgate speaks with officals in the tunnel while Bulgaria captain Ivelin Popov pleads with home fans to stop the abuse. England players agree unanimously to return for the second half.
 
Second-half: Sporadic monkey chants but game continues with no further stoppages.
 
Post-match: Bulgaria manager Krasimir Balakov declares: “I didn’t hear anything. If this is true we have to be ashamed and we have to apologise but it has to be proven to be true.”
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