‘England wanted to make Bulgaria fans suffer’


'England wanted to make Bulgaria fans suffer'
Soccer Football - Euro 2020 Qualifier - Group A - Bulgaria v England - Vasil Levski National Stadium, Sofia, Bulgaria - October 14, 2019 England's Jordan Henderson and manager Gareth Southgate speak to referee Ivan Bebek as the match is temporarily stopped during the first half REUTERS/Anton Uzunov

In Summary

  • England players wanted to thrash Bulgaria to make their fans "suffer" for their racist abuse, said midfielder Jordan Henderson
  • Monday's Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia was stopped twice as home fans were warned about racist behaviour including Nazi salutes and monkey chanting

England players wanted to thrash Bulgaria to make their fans “suffer” for their racist abuse, said midfielder Jordan Henderson.

Monday’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia was stopped twice as home fans were warned about racist behaviour including Nazi salutes and monkey chanting.

England were 3-0 up after the second stoppage in the 43rd minute and then scored three more times in a 6-0 win.

“It was disgusting,” Henderson, 29, said of the abuse his team-mates faced.

“It shouldn’t be happening and something needs to be done about it but I thought the lads were outstanding and if I was angry I’m sure they were angry as well.

“We let the football do the talking. The message in the dressing room at half-time was we wanted to go out in the second half and make them suffer and make their team suffer on the pitch and I think we did that.”

England defender Tyrone Mings, on his international debut, said the racist abuse started before the match began and was later shown to turn towards the assistant referee and ask: “Did you hear that?” after further chants in the first half.

With England 2-0 ahead following goals from Marcus Rashford and Ross Barkley, an announcement was made in the 28th minute warning home fans that any further incidents could result in the match being abandoned – in line with Uefa’s three-step anti-racism protocols.

Barkley added a third goal for Gareth Southgate’s side, before the match was stopped for a second time shortly before half-time.

Southgate, captain Harry Kane and several players gathered near the touchline before the interval after more audible abuse, and it looked as if the game would be abandoned.

While some questioned the decision of the visitors to play out the remainder of the qualifier, Henderson said the players had good reason to.

“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, it is very disappointing,” he said.

“But, at the same time, I felt as a team we dealt with it so well, we touched on it before we came here just in case it did happen and unfortunately it did.

“We spoke together and the decision was that we carried on because if you leave the pitch and stop the game they win, really.”

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