Bulgaria coach Krasimir Balakov backtracks, says sorry to England, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Bulgaria coach Krasimir Balakov backtracks, says sorry to England

Bulgaria coach earlier insisted that he had not heard any racist abuse

Bulgaria coach Krasimir Balakov has apologised to the England team after fans taunted their black players with Nazi salutes and monkey chants during a Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia on Monday.

England thrashed Bulgaria 6-0 to hand the hosts their heaviest home defeat, but the game will be remembered more for the racist incidents that led to action being temporarily stopped in the first half.

European football's ruling body Uefa has opened disciplinary proceedings against Bulgaria over the racist behaviour.

While Balakov said after the game he had not heard any racist abuse from the stands, in an e-mail to reporters yesterday morning (Singapore time), he apologised for the fans' behaviour.

"I strongly condemn and reject racism as a norm of conduct that contradicts modern human relations," Balakov said.

"This is a prejudice that comes from the past that must be eradicated forever.

"I want to say something very clear: given that there have been insults on such a basis, I, as a coach of the national team, apologise to the English footballers and all those who feel hurt."

Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) president Borislav Mihaylov resigned on Tuesday, a few hours after the Balkan country's Prime Minister Boyko Borissov called for the former international goalkeeper to step down.

The police also conducted a raid on BFU, which Borissov said was for a probe into corruption at the organisation, not because of the racism storm at the England match.

The swoop conducted by police, the anti-organised crime unit and the tax administration was revealed just hours after Mihaylov quit.

Local media had reported earlier that the raid was conducted as part of a month-long probe into the work of the BFU's refereeing committee.


"What they are doing here - not obeying the laws, rigging games and fixing referee assignments to matches - we won't put up with this," said Borissov, who also ordered a financial audit of the BFU.

Allegations about the rigging of domestic games have long been rife in Bulgaria. The practice was made punishable by law in 2011, but no major convictions have been made since.

According to Bulgarian media, 30 specialised prosecutors, anti-organised crime officers and police entered the BFU headquarters on the outskirts of Sofia, conducting searches and confiscating documents.

Special prosecution spokesman Bozhidar Dimitrov had earlier confirmed the raid to AFP but gave no further details, while media reported that five officials had also been taken in for questioning.

Meanwhile, Bulgaria's Ministry of Interior said six fans had been arrested over the racist abuse of England players during Monday's match. - REUTERS, AFP