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Dublin: 9°C Monday 30 November 2020

Bulgaria unveil 'scarf of respect' after racist abuse

The Bulgarian governing body got their thinking caps on and came up with a scarf promoting respect.

BULGARIA’S FA, THE BFS, has revealed the ‘Scarf of Respect’ as part of an anti-racism initiative following the behaviour of national team fans during the visit of England in October.

England defender Tyrone Mings was seen to ask the fourth official ‘do you hear that?’ as players were targeted for racist abuse and ‘monkey chants’ during the 6-0 clash, with the match having to be halted twice as fans were given verbal warnings over the stadium’s tannoy.

In addition, groups of the home side’s fans were seen performing Nazi salutes and wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the slogan ‘No respect’ in response to FIFA’s ‘Equal game’ initiative, which targeted at combating racism.

Bulgaria captain Ivelin Popov was seen at half time pleading with fans to stop and the game was eventually played until full-time, but it was clear that not all fans had ceased spouting hate speech and making fascist gestures.

Coach Krasimir Balakov and Bulgaria Football Union (BFU) president Borislav Mihaylov resigned soon after the match, with the former having made a rod for his own back after stating before the tie that England had a worse problem with racism than Bulgaria, then claiming he didn’t see or hear anything racist during the game.

Now, however, the BFS has taken steps to attempt to tackle racism by presenting the ‘Scarf of Respect’ as part of larger campaign to wipe out extreme xenophobia in the country.

A statement reads: “Football is a game for everyone, regardless of their race, gender or religion. With this message, the Bulgarian Football Union presents ‘The Scarf of Respect’ – a fan scarf, the proceeds of which will go towards combating discrimination in our favourite sports. 

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“The creation of this charity product is part of a series of steps that the BFS will take in response to what happened during the European Qualification between Bulgaria and England on October 14th. 

“Traditionally, football scarves show affiliation with a particular club – ‘The Scarf of Respect’ shows the love of the game for everyone. The scarf is inspired by the colours of the Bulgarian flag, but the message is universal – in football there is no place for discrimination of any nature.”

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