Bulgarian police have identified 15 fans they suspect are responsible for subjecting black England players to racist abuse and arrested six of them.
The nine not arrested are under police investigation, with three wanted.
England’s 6-0 Euro 2020 qualifier win over Bulgaria in Sofia was stopped twice in the first half following racist chanting by home supporters.
“We do not tolerate such behaviour,” Bulgaria Ministry of the Interior commissioner Georgi Hadzhiev said.
Bulgaria’s football chief Borislav Mikhailov resigned on Tuesday.
Bulgaria manager Krasimir Balakov said after the game he “didn’t hear” any chanting, having previously accused England of having a bigger racism problem.
But Balakov has since posted a statement on Facebook, acknowledging the incidents on Monday and apologising to “English footballers and to all those who felt offended”.
“I condemn all forms of racism as an unacceptable behaviour that contradicts normal human relations,” he added. “I think that this form of prejudice should be buried deep in our past, and no-one should ever be subjected to it.”
Bulgarian legend Hristo Stoichkov became emotional when he was asked on TV how to prevent a similar occurrence in future. He advocated that “fans are not allowed in the stadium or even [face] heavier punishments”.
Apparently referring to the five-year European ban imposed on English club sides after 39 people died at Heysel Stadium before the start of the 1985 European Cup final between Liverpool and Juventus, he added: “Like in England for years – five years without going to stadiums. People don’t deserve to suffer.”
Meanwhile, the English Football Association and Uefa have condemned the actions of the ‘ultras’ section of Bulgaria fans, with Aleksander Ceferin, president of the sport’s European governing body, calling for “football family and governments” to “wage war on the racists”.
The FA has also offered full support to England players following the racist chanting, with counselling one of the options open to them.
Players condemn abuse
England midfielder Jordan Henderson called the behaviour of Bulgaria fans “disgusting”, after they were warned for making Nazi salutes and monkey noises.
“I obviously wasn’t happy with the situation that we were in – it wasn’t nice to be involved in and it shouldn’t be happening in 2019,” he said.
Team-mate Tyrone Mings, who was making his international debut on Monday, said he heard racist chanting “clear as day” during the pre-match warm-up in Sofia.
A number of players posted on social media following the game, thanking travelling fans for their support and expressing their pride in the performance despite the abuse.
“Not an easy situation to play in and not one which should be happening in 2019,” said striker Marcus Rashford. “Proud we rose above it to take three points but this needs stamping out.
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