England’s midfielder Jordon Henderson has revealed that he and his team-mates wanted to make Bulgaria suffer as the crowd in Sofia hurled racial abuse at the Three Lions’ players during the Euro 2020 qualifying match.
England had defeated Bulgaria 6-0 in the match, but the game garnered attention for all the wrong reasons as the match was stopped twice in the first half due to racial abuse from Bulgarian supporters.
“I obviously was not happy with the situation that we were in, it was not nice to be involved in and it should not be happening in 2019, it is very disappointing. But at the same time, I felt as though 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,” Goal.com quoted Henderson as saying.
“So we spoke together and the decision was that we carried on because if you leave the pitch and stop the game they win, really. That is how we looked at it and what the message was in the dressing room at half-time. 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,” he added.
The match official was even seen discussing the matter with England skipper Hary Kane and an announcement was also made at the stadium on Monday during the match.
“Because of racist behaviour which is interfering with the game, the referee has indicated he may have to suspend the match. Please be in no doubt that the game may be suspended and abandoned if racist behaviour continues,” was announced.
Three Lions’ debutant Tyrone Mings had made the fourth official aware of abuse as he went on to say: “You hear that?” England were 2-0 up at the time, following goals from Marcus Rashford and Ross Barkley.
A large group of fans who were wearing black hoodies were pictured showing their middle fingers and performing Nazi salutes towards the pitch.
England coach Gareth Southgate made another complaint to the match officials shortly before half-time, with abuse towards his
players continuing after the initial warning.
With the match stopped for a second time before the interval, large numbers of the above-mentioned section of spectators were seen leaving the stadium.
“We stayed together as we should have and we spoke about it before, handled it well and if one player didn’t want to carry on we would have stopped playing, simple as that, no problem. But everyone wanted to carry on and we wanted to let football do the talking,” Henderson said.
“We are obviously happy with the performance but still feel like it shouldn’t be happening in this day and age. To hear the announcement about the racism and then the whole stadium whistling was a bit strange. I’m sure something will be done,” he added.
Last week, England skipper Harry Kane had decided to take the fight against racism in his own hands. Striker Tammy Abraham revealed that the skipper has conveyed his charge against racism to all his teammates.
“Harry Kane said that if it happens (racist abuse) and we are not happy with it, we speak to the player and if he is not happy, we all come off the pitch together. It is a team thing. Do not isolate one person, we are a whole team. If it happens to one of us, it happens to all of us,” Abraham had said.
Many England players including Raheem Sterling and Danny Rose, were subjected to monkey chants during the team’s match in March this year.
UEFA has a three-step protocol to deal with racism. In the first step, an announcement is made at the stadium to instruct the crowd if there is any racist abuse.
In the second step, the players can leave the pitch while a second message is delivered to fans, before, finally, a decision is made whether to abandon or restart the match. (ANI)