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Bulgaria football chief resigns after racist abuse at England match

Bulgaria's football union president resigned on Tuesday, a day after racist abuse marred a match against England in Sofia.

Bulgaria football chief resigns after racist abuse at England match

UEFA Executive Committee Member Borislav Mihaylov during the UEFA Executive Committee meeting ahead of the EURO2024 Host Announcement on Sep 27, 2018. (Photo: Harold Cunningham/Pool via REUTERS)

SOFIA: Bulgaria's football union chief resigned on Tuesday (Oct 15), a day after a match against England was twice halted because of racist abuse.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov had urged Borislav Mihaylov, the president of the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU), to immediately step down following Monday's Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia.

The match, which England won 6-0, was halted twice after England players were targeted by racist chanting.

A group of black-clad Bulgarian fans, some of whom were making right-wing salutes, were moved from an area behind the dugout at the stadium with home team captain Ivelin Popov appealing to the supporters in a heated discussion at halftime.

The BFU said in a statement on its website that Mihaylov presented his resignation on Tuesday and would hand it to the members of the BFU executive committee during its meeting Friday.

"His decision resulted from the tension created over the past days, which is detrimental to Bulgarian football and the Bulgarian Football Union," the statement said.

READ: British PM condemns 'vile' racism during Euro 2020 qualifier in Bulgaria

Borisov said on Facebook that it was "inadmissible that Bulgaria ... is associated with racism and xenophobia" and he "categorically condemned the behaviour of some of those present at the stadium".

Earlier on Tuesday, BFU media chief Hristo Zapryanov had said his union was not to blame for the trouble, dismissing Monday's incidents as "inadmissable" but saying 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".

The 56-year-old Mihaylov, part of Bulgarian team that reached the semi-finals at the 1994 World Cup in the United States, had been BFU president since 2005 when he replaced long-serving Ivan Slavkov, who was expelled from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) following allegations of corruption.

Former Reading keeper Mihaylov, who also played at the World Cup finals in 1986 and 1998 as well as the European championship in 1996, has been heavily criticised by Bulgarian media and fans for failing to lead the BFU out of years of corruption and controversy.

Before the game, he had urged UEFA to stop "tensions" after England forward 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".

Source: AGENCIES/ec

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