Bulgaria’s Mihaylov steps down after night of racist shame

BorislavMihaylov

October 16 – Bulgarian FA chief Borislav Mihaylov (pictured) resigned on Tuesday in the wake of the racism that marred his country’s Euro 2020 qualifier against England the previous day.

Fans taunted England’s black players with Nazi salutes and monkey chants prompting match officials to halt the game twice.

Prime Minister Boyko Borissov had called earlier for Mihaylov, Bulgaria’s former international goalkeeper, to step down.

The fallout from what English FA chairman Greg Clarke described as “probably one of the most appalling nights I have seen in football” also triggered a reaction from the British government.

A spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said UEFA needed to do more to tackle “vile” racism.

UEFA had already ordered the partial closure of Sofia’s Vasil Levski stadium for the England game after racist behaviour by Bulgarian supporters in June’s qualifiers against the Czechs and Kosovo.

Mihaylov, captain of the Bulgarian national team that made it to the World Cup semi-finals in 1994,  had previously defended Bulgarian football from accusations of racism and criticised England for what he saw as a “fixation” on potential incidents that could raise tension.

But as well as being held responsible for Bulgaria’s problems off the pitch, including constant allegations of matchfixing, he has been in charge of a federation whose national team  have failed to qualify for a major tournament since 2004.

What happened on Monday, when Bulgaria were hammered 6-0, was effectively the last straw and ahead of the FA boss’ departure, Borissov said: “It is unacceptable that Bulgaria – which is one of the most tolerant states in the world and where people of different ethnic and religious background peacefully live together – should be associated with racism.”

Separately, Bulgarian authorities launched an anti-corruption investigation not directly related to the racism row.

“It’s about crimes against sport,” Reuters was told. “We’re talking about corruption offences, connected to the work of the BFU’s referee commission and the appointment of referees on football matches.

“The investigation is still under way and it’s too early to say if there’ll be some arrests.”

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