ENGLAND’s clash with Bulgaria in Sofia has been marred by racist chanting.
The referee was forced to suspend the match twice in the first half after Tyrone Mings and Raheem Sterling were targeted by sick taunts from the home terraces.
Could England vs Bulgaria be abandoned because of racist chanting?
UEFA have a three-stage policy when it comes to racist chanting.
Stage one was put into force just twenty minutes into England’s game in Sofia, shortly after they had gone 2-0 up against the hosts.
And Gareth Southgate informed the fourth official on 42 minutes that the chanting was continuing with the game halted again.
If all three guidelines are followed, the game could theoretically be abandoned.
- The referee halts play and an announcement is made over the PA system, demanding that the behaviour stop immediately.
- If the abuse continues once play restarts, the official will suspend the match for a “reasonable period of time”, while both teams will return to the dressing rooms.
- The third and final step sees the referee abandon the match entirely.
The new protocol was brought in late last year but Raheem Sterling revealed that England players were unaware of it when experiencing similar issues against Montenegro in March.
He revealed: “In Montenegro, I dont think, as a team, we were quite prepared and knew that there was a protocol in place.
“We had a meeting as a group and Gareth sat us down and explained Uefa’s protocol and now, as players, weve got to give Uefa a chance to take that responsibility on board and deal with the situation. At this moment in time, yes, I have got full faith in Uefa.”
Bulgaria have already been charged by the Uefa Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body due to racist behaviour by their supporters, with 5,000 seats left empty for the visit of England.
What happens if the game is abandoned?
UEFA have gone in strong on racist abuse and are determined to stamp it from the game.
If England were to walk off the pitch – as Tammy Abraham indicated they might this week – without consent of the referee, they would be seen to be forfeiting the game by official rules.
But due to the circumstances, it’s unlikely that Uefa would punish the Three Lions with a default 3-0 loss.
England look set to ride things out in Sofia, but if the referee abandons the game for further abuse it will likely be defaulted as an England win.