SOFIA, Oct 15 — Bulgaria’s prime minister today urged the country’s football union president Borislav Mihaylov to resign after a match against England was twice halted because of racist abuse.
“I urge Borislav Mihaylov to hand in his resignation immediately!” Prime Minister Boyko Borisov wrote on Facebook, adding it was “inadmissible that Bulgaria… is associated with racism and xenophobia”.
The Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia, which England won 6-0, was halted after England players were targeted by racist chanting.
Borisov said he “categorically condemned the behaviour of some of those present at the stadium,” insisting that EU member Bulgaria was “one of the most tolerant countries in the world”.
Borisov said the government would sever all ties, including financial, with the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) over what he called “a shameful loss” and the overall poor standing of Bulgarian football until Mihaylov resigned.
BFU media chief Hristo Zapryanov said his union was not to blame for the trouble, adding Mihaylov would speak after the body’s executive committee meeting on Friday, but would not resign.
“If you ask for a resignation, of course, he will not resign,” Zapryanov told reporters, adding the government had “no right to press demands or interfere in any way in football” according to international football governing rules.
He dismissed yesterday’s incidents as “inadmissable” but said the BFU had no power “to investigate and to track hooligans”.
England manager Gareth Southgate said his side had made a statement by deciding to complete the match instead of leaving the pitch in the face of the abuse, calling it “an unacceptable situation”.
Mihaylov has headed the football federation since 2005. During his time in charge Bulgaria have failed to qualify for any major tournament.
Before the game, he had urged Uefa to stop “tensions” after England player Tammy Abraham said his team was prepared to walk off the pitch if they faced abuse during Euro 2020 qualifiers.
Mihaylov had said the BFU had made “extreme efforts and measures… to ensure a fair and safe environment”. — AFP