'They were stronger than racism' – FA chief Clarke proud of how England squad handled Bulgaria incident

The Three Lions were “visibly upset” by chanting on Monday, but still stayed together in a 6-0 Euro 2020 qualifying win

Greg Clarke said that several of England’s players and staff were “visibly upset” by racist chanting in the Three Lions’ win over Bulgaria, but the FA Chairman says that he is proud of how the team responded by proving they were “stronger than racism”.

England’s UEFA 2020 qualifier against Bulgaria was stopped twice due to racist chanting after the team had previously stated they were concerned about potential incidents in the lead-up to the match.

Those concerns proved very valid, as the first half of Monday’s clash was marred by racial abuse, with play temporary halted due to the behaviour of home supporters, prompting Bulgaria captain Ivelin Popov to address home supporters during the half-time break

England went on to win the match 6-0 behind braces from Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling while Marcus Rashford and Harry Kane also contributed goals.

And Clarke stated that he was proud of his team

“I would like to see a stringent review by UEFA, I know they take racism very, very seriously, so if we say zero tolerance, zero tolerance means zero tolerance,” he said.

“Not only do we have a multi-racial team, we have a multi-racial backroom staff, and some of them at half-time were visibly upset at the amount of abuse the squad were taking.

“So we have to be so proud of our players and the squad around them and the support staff who stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the face of abject racism, showed they were stronger than racism.”

Clarke went on to add that he gives credit to coach Gareth Southgate for helping control the situation from the start, ensuring that the game could continue on.

“I’m happy that Gareth was in control from our side,” he said. “When the first event happened, he got the players together and the announcement was made. Then the players came across a second time and the referee said ‘do you want to carry on?’ and Gareth said, ‘well, it’s four minutes to half-time so let’s get to half-time and review it’.

“He sat down with the players, they wanted to get out there and win the game, to play, and I think – and this is only my opinion – there was less racism and chanting in the second half.

“But any of it is appalling. But Gareth at the end, I spoke to him, and he felt they had made the right decision to finish the game and the squad wanted to finish the game.”

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