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Raheem Sterling was the target of alleged racist abuse from a Bulgaria fan for the duration of England’s Euro 2020 qualifier at Wembley – and Gareth Southgate fears his players could be subjected to far more in subsequent month’s return fixture in Sofia.

The PA news agency understands that the 24-year-old, a crucial figure in the fight against racism, was the concentrate of discriminatory language for the duration of the very first half of Saturday’s match at the national stadium.

A steward heard the person in the Bulgaria section of the ground and they had been ejected from Wembley and handed to the police.


The Metropolitan Police has confirmed to PA that the male was arrested and taken to a north London police station on suspicion of an aggravated public order offence. Following enquiries, he was released with no additional action.

A spokesperson from the Football Association stated: “We can confirm that an person, who was seated in the away section of the stadium, was ejected and subsequently arrested for discriminatory abuse for the duration of the England v Bulgaria match.

“Wembley Stadium operates a zero tolerance policy on anti-social and discriminatory behaviour and any person located guilty will be ejected and reported to the police.”

PA understands that absolutely nothing was stated to Sterling about the incident for the duration of the game, with the FA’s safety group speaking to the forward just after the four- win to make him conscious of the procedure.

Raheem Sterling scored in England's win over Bulgaria
Raheem Sterling scored in England’s win more than Bulgaria (Nick Potts/PA).

UEFA was informed of the incident via its matchday delegate.

It is a sad but all as well familiar story, with Sterling and his England group-mates subjected to racist abuse for the duration of March’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Montenegro.

The Football Association of Montenegro had been ordered to play their subsequent match behind closed doors and manager Southgate fears comparable abuse in Bulgaria.

“Yes, it is a concern,” the England boss stated hunting ahead to the October encounter.  “It’s anything that we’ve currently planned.

“We’ve currently planned what our schedule appears like and we’re going to talk about it with the players prior to we go, mainly because we’re conscious that there is history there and we want to make confident that we’re all ready for what could occur and how we want to respond.

Ashley Young was subjected to monkey chants during a match in Bulgaria in 2011
Ashley Young was subjected to monkey chants for the duration of a match in Bulgaria in 2011 (Nick Potts/PA).

“So, we are going to address that when we all get back with each other. We didn’t feel it was ideal to do it this month mainly because it is as well far away from the games, but we have to hope… we’re not confident that we’ll go there and absolutely nothing will occur.”

Subsequent month’s qualifier will be England’s very first trip to Bulgaria considering the fact that September 2011, when a three- win was overshadowed by racist abuse in Sofia.

Ashley Young was subjected to monkey chants for the duration of that game, but the Bulgarian Football Union (BFS) only received a 40,000 euros (£34,000) fine by UEFA for “discriminatory” chanting and for the lighting and throwing of fireworks.

The Vasil Levski National Stadium will currently be partially closed for England’s newest go to due to the racist behaviour of their supporters in the two-1 loss in the Czech Republic in June.


The BFS is necessary to block off at least five,000 seats for the go to of Southgate’s guys and show a banner with the wording ‘#EqualGame’.

Bulgaria’s return fixture against the Czechs is also due to be played at a partially-closed ground due to racist behaviour in the three-two dwelling loss to Kosovo in their other June fixture.

And just final month, Bulgarian sides Levski Sofia and PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv 1926 had been each ordered to play their subsequent UEFA matches in partially-closed stadiums due to racist behaviour in their respective Europa League qualifiers.

It is a depressing state of affairs, as are the issues surrounding England fan behaviour on the trip to the Czech Republic in the days top up to the trip to Bulgaria.

Gareth Southgate fears there may be more racist incidents in Bulgaria next month
Gareth Southgate fears there might be far more racist incidents in Bulgaria subsequent month (Tim Goode/PA)

UEFA’s scheduling of the Group A qualifier in the celebration city of Prague on a Friday evening has set off alarm bells, with the FA’s head of safety Tony Conniford raising issues more than the timing of the match following challenges at the Nations League.

Fan disturbances involving some England supporters in Portugal more than the summer time compounded flare-ups in Amsterdam and Seville final year, with Southgate saying “it’s sad we have to appeal” to these going to behave.

“It must be a offered – sadly it is not,” he stated. “Sadly, we are going to a spot exactly where folks go, travel anyway for nights out from our nation. What we do not will need to see is behaviour that I am afraid occurs on our personal higher streets, so it is not anything that is just England supporters.

“I’m afraid that it is a societal challenge of folks with alcohol unable to manage themselves. But we surely do not want to be taking that abroad and that becoming a representation of our nation.”

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