Former Manchester United and Tottenham star Dimitar Berbatov has given an emotional response to the racism of Bulgaria fans in the game against England.
Berbatov, who scored 48 goals in 78 caps for Bulgaria, says he was ashamed of the minority of fans who behaved so disgracefully against England, with many monkey chants heard and even some Nazi salutes seen from a few individuals.
Berbatov insists Bulgaria should not be tarnished because of the actions of a few fans, but he hit out at those who aimed racist chants at England players and called on strong action to be taken to tackle racism in football all over the world.
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“I cannot accept the criticism that the whole of Bulgaria has received, 50 people cannot define a nation, we are not racists,” the 38-year-old told the Daily Star.
“I am a proud Bulgarian and I know that we are dealing with this straight away, and there will be severe justice.
“I hope that every country around the world is working on this issue, we are all in this together, let’s not divide.
“In every nation there are bad apples and bad people, this was the case in our stadium against England.
“There were people there who were only there to provoke, these people don’t deserve to go to games and watch football, and for me they need to be banned for life, not just at football but all kinds of sport.
“I hope our government in Bulgaria does their job and bans them for life, they don’t deserve to be there and they have brought shame on all of us.
“Because of them, we are only talking about the incidents of racism and not about the football, which has become secondary and it should not be like that.
“I am very ashamed of how these people can do this. It is also a problem in England, Italy and all around the world, these people should be banned for life.
“We need to stay together and fight against it because this is unacceptable.”
England ended up having the last laugh with a thumping 6-0 win in Sofia, but there’s no doubt that their players should not have to be subjected to this kind of treatment again.
The game had to be paused at points, and it may be that players walking off in protest could be the next step to persuade the likes of UEFA to take this problem more seriously.