Bulgaria have been ordered to play two matches behind closed doors, one suspended for two years, and fined 75,000 Euros (£64,641) over the racist behaviour of fans during the Euro 2020 qualifier against England on October 14, UEFA has announced.
A section of supporters at the match in Sofia’s Levski Stadium directed racial abuse at England’s black players, while some were also seen making Nazi salutes.
The punishment exceeds the standard sanction for a second offence at a home match within a period of five years, which would normally be one match behind closed doors.
The sanction means Bulgaria’s qualifier against the Czech Republic on November 17 will be played behind closed doors.
Piara Powar, the executive director of the Fare network which works to combat racism and discrimination in football across Europe, felt Bulgaria should have been disqualified from the competition.
“We welcome the speed of this decision, but we are disappointed that Bulgaria will not be expelled from the Euro 2020 qualifying competition given their previous record, and obvious inability to deal with the problems they face,” he said.
“We think that the evidence and circumstances of this match would have justified European football being given a stronger signal on the need to tackle racism.
“Obtaining justice for racist acts is not easy in any setting, it is clear that football is no exception.
“We will be in touch with UEFA to explore options ?and maintain that Bulgaria and others in the same situation fundamentally reappraise how they deal with racism.”
The FA released a statement in response to the sanctions being issued which read: “We sincerely hope the disgraceful scenes in Sofia are never repeated.
“Our priority remains our players, support team and fans and we will do all we can to ensure they never have to endure such circumstances again.
“While we acknowledge UEFA’s ruling today, a huge challenge still exists around racism and discrimination in society.
“Football has its part to play, and must do so, but it is for all to recognise the seriousness of the problem.
“While those responsible for such deplorable behaviour at home or abroad need to be held to account, we should not lose sight of the importance of education programmes in finding a long-term solution.
“That has to be the way forward to help address the root cause of such disgusting behaviour. We are ready to build on our work with UEFA, Kick It Out and the FARE network in any positive way we can.”
It is understood the FA has no intention to appeal against the sanctions handed down to Bulgaria.