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Bulgaria vs England racism: LIVE news as football world reacts after fans abuse players during Euro qualifier

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Kane calls for zero tolerance approach to racist abuse

 

England captain Harry Kane believes Uefa’s racism protocol is not strong enough and called for a zero tolerance approach to discrimination in football after last night’s sickening scenes in Bulgaria.

The 6-0 win in Sofia was marred by racist abuse towards England players, with play twice halted by the referee before half-time due to monkey chanting by sections of the home support, who were also pictured doing Nazi salutes.

Kane and England manager Gareth Southgate said pre-match they would abide by Uefa’s three-step protocol on racism at the Vasil Levski National Stadium, while Raheem Sterling, who scored twice, insisted he had “full faith” in the European governing body’s measures.

 

But afterwards, Kane said: “Whether the Uefa protocols is strong enough, I am not sure.

“Should any racial abuse should be allowed at any time? It shouldn’t be. The protocol at the moment allows there to be an announcement and two or three steps before the players are taken off the pitch.

“It is unacceptable to be racist once, so I feel there can be stronger punishments and protocols. But from our point of view as a team, we stuck together, showed unity and did what we had to and that is the most important thing.”

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Uefa’s first step involves the referee halting play and making an announcement over the PA system, calling for the abuse stop. If the behaviour continues once play has restarted, the official will suspend the match for a “specific period”, while both teams return to the dressing rooms. The third and final step sees the referee abandon the match entirely.

Debutant Tyrone Mings revealed he heard monkey chants during the warms-up but the first step did not come until the 28th-minute last night, with the tannoy announcement calling for an end to the abuse in both Bulgarian and English loudly booed by sections of the home support.

Play was stopped again in the 41st-minute when England’s players were offered the chance to leave the pitch but they opted to forego the second step and play on until half-time, when they decided against abandoning the Euro 2020 qualifier. Southgate said afterwards that if the abuse had continued into the second half, his players would have taken the option of step two.

“There was a discussion in the changing room and everyone wanted to carry on playing,” said Kane, who finished the night with three assists and a goal. “If there were players who didn’t we wouldn’t have come back out and played. That shows the squad, the maturity and the character that everyone wanted to come back out and play.

“I’m definitely proud of my team-mates and my friends and everyone involved with our nation.

“It wasn’t easy for anyone, we made a decision as a team to carry on playing, you saw us come together before half-time and we said we would play until half-time, get together and decide what we wanted to do. Everyone wanted to carry on and do their talking on the pitch, which I am extremely proud of.

“It is not easy to play in circumstances like that but the 6-0 victory and the way we played, the manner in which we played I’m extremely proud of for sure.”

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