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Soccer federation’s president calls for ‘war on the racists’ after match between England, Bulgaria

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The president of the European soccer federation on Tuesday called on “football family” across the globe to “wage war on the racists” after a match between England and Bulgaria had to be paused twice due to racist chants aimed at black players.

UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin released a statement condemning the fans’ behavior from the Monday match in Sofia, Bulgaria, in which referees were forced to pause the match.

{mosads}Čeferin pointed to the rise of nationalism across Europe as the reason for an uptick in “unacceptable behavior.”

The Euro 2020 qualifying match between the two countries was marred by reports of Nazi salutes and “monkey” chants, just the latest instance of racism in international soccer.

The Bulgarian Football Union was charged by UEFA for the racist behavior aimed at England’s players under the new three-stage protocol that calls for completely halting matches if the activity does not cease, according to The Associated Press.

“Believe me, UEFA is committed to doing everything it can to eliminate this disease from football,” Čeferin said in the statement. “We cannot afford to be content with this. We must always strive to strengthen our resolve.”

Bulgarian Football Union President Borislav Mihailov said he would resign at a meeting on Friday, according to the news network.

“Football associations themselves cannot solve this problem,” Čeferin added in the statement. “Governments too need to do more in this area. Only by working together in the name of decency and honor will we make progress.”

Čeferin noted that UEFA’s “sanctions are among the toughest in sport for clubs and associations whose supporters are racist at our matches.”

Bulgarian fans, in particular, have a history of racist behavior at international soccer matches. The match against England Monday was already at reduced fan capacity due to racist acts by fans during a home qualifier against Kosovo.

Additionally, 3,000 seats at the Vasil Levski National Stadium will be closed off when Bulgaria faces the Czech Republic next month following another racist incident from June.

Tags racist chants soccer UEFA

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