Bulgaria's Krasimir Balakov Resigns After Fans' Racist Abuse of England Players

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistOctober 18, 2019

Bulgaria's coach Krasimir Balakov shouts instructions to his players from the touchline during the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying first round Group A football match between England and Bulgaria at Wembley Stadium in London on September 7, 2019. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) / NOT FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING USE / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE        (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
BEN STANSALL/Getty Images

Krasimir Balakov has resigned from his position as Bulgaria manager four days on from his team's 6-0 hammering against England in Sofia, a match that was tarnished by racist behaviour from home supporters. 

Bakalov's side have only picked up three points from their UEFA 2020 European Championship qualifying campaign and they were comprehensively beaten by the Three Lions in Monday's encounter.

Per BBC Sport, Balakov said he didn't have it in him to galvanise the players:

"I wish success to the next coach, the situation is not rosy at the moment. I have never been a coach in such an atmosphere.

"I tried to pick up the players in the locker room. There was no rebellion. The players were so mentally stressed by what was happening on the pitch that they lacked the energy to rebel."

A statement from the Bulgarian Football Union said "the performance of Bulgaria's men's national team in recent months has been described as unsatisfactory, which is why Balakov resigned." 

BBC Sport noted reports from Bulgaria indicate the entire Bulgarian Football Union board have stepped down from their roles, including president Borislav Mikhailov.

The seemingly inevitable sweeping changes in Bulgarian football come after shameful scenes in the capital on Monday, when a number of England players were subjected to racist abuse. The match had to be stopped twice in the first half.

As ITV Football relayed, monkey chanting could be heard throughout the match, while some supporters made Nazi salutes during the qualifying game:

After the contest, Balakov said he was not aware of any discriminatory actions in the stands. "I didn't actually hear anything but I just talked to the English press downstairs and I told them that if this is proven to be true, then we have to be ashamed and we have to apologise for it," he said.

Miguel Delaney of The Independent was critical of the post-match remarks made by the former Bulgarian manager:

Three Lions star Raheem Sterling referenced pre-match comments made by Balakov on social media on Monday night, in which the coach said England had a bigger issue with racism than Bulgaria:

It's been previously reported by BBC that Bulgarian police have identified 16 fans who took part in racist behaviour at the game, with 12 arrests made. Four of those have already received two-year bans and fines.

UEFA have opened disciplinary proceedings against Bulgaria, charging them with "racist behaviour" in regards to the chanting and Nazi salutes.

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