Uefa spotters will report Bulgaria abuse
Undercover spotters have been commissioned by Uefa because of fears players will be racially abused during England’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Bulgaria on Monday.
Three plain-clothed observers from Fare, the anti-discrimination network, will have live communication with the governing body to relay any reports of abuse.
England play the Czech Republic in Prague tomorrow and on Monday go to Sofia’s Vasil Levski Stadium, which will have a reduced capacity by order of Uefa because of racial abuse during games against the Czechs and Kosovo in June.
The Football Association said the players had agreed to follow the Uefa protocol of racial abuse being reported first to the referee, who calls for a stadium announcement. If that fails to solve the problem, the players are taken off the pitch.
However, Tammy Abraham, the Chelsea striker, suggested that if the situation was particularly bad, the team would be led off by captain Harry Kane regardless of the protocol.
Such a move would be unprecedented from an England team, although Gareth Southgate has said in the past that the players and staff would be prepared to take matters into their own hands if the situation required it.
The team were abused by home fans in March in a Euro 2020 qualifier in Montenegro, for which the hosts were punished by an £18,000 fine and their next game being staged behind closed doors.
In August, Bulgarian club sides PFC Levski Sofia and PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv were punished by Uefa for racism during Europa League games.
A Fare spokesman said: “Unfortunately, we cannot comment on the presence of our observers before the match for safety reasons as they work anonymously in the stadiums.”