Bulgaria police make arrests over racist abuse at England match

The Bulgarian government said it has detained soccer fans thought to be linked to making racist gestures, including Nazi salutes, during a European Championship qualifying match against England. (AP Photo)
Updated 16 October 2019

Bulgaria police make arrests over racist abuse at England match

  • Monkey chants and apparent Nazi salutes overshadowed England’s 6-0 win in Sofia on Monday, with the match halted twice during the first half due to the abuse
  • 15 people have been singled out via CCTV at the Vasil Levski National Stadium as being suspected of directing abuse against England’s black players

SOFIA: Six Bulgarians have been detained over racist abuse at a Euro 2020 qualifier against England that sparked a storm of protest and led to the resignation of the country’s football chief, police said Wednesday.
Monkey chants and apparent Nazi salutes overshadowed England’s 6-0 win in Sofia on Monday, with the match halted twice during the first half due to the abuse.
“Six people have been detained and another three are being actively sought,” Sofia police chief commissioner Georgy Hadzhiev told journalists.
Hadzhiev added that so far 15 people have been singled out via CCTV at the Vasil Levski National Stadium as being suspected of directing abuse against England’s black players.
Penalties for the offenses carry brief detentions, fines and bans from sports events.
In total, 15,000 people watched the match at a stadium already partially closed after racist incidents during games against Kosovo and the Czech Republic in June.
England manager Gareth Southgate told reporters after the game that his side had been ready to walk off the pitch if the abusive behavior continued but players decided to complete the match.
The incident sparked a storm of angry reactions from fans, media and officials in both countries.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the “vile” racism, while his Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borisov forced the country’s football federation chief Borislav Mihaylov to offer his resignation on Tuesday.
In a statement late Tuesday, Bulgarian national team manager Krasimir Balakov offered his apologies to the England player.
The scandal divided Bulgarians — while many apologized in posts on social media about what they said was a pervasive problem in the country, others refused to be identified with the offenders and condemned British media headlines that called all Bulgarians “racists” and “animals.”
UEFA announced that it was launching a probe into the behavior of both the Bulgaria and England fans. Its president Aleksander Ceferin stressed the commitment of European football’s governing body to root out the “disease” of racism.


Anthony Joshua to face Andy Ruiz for world championship rematch in Saudi Arabia

Updated 20 November 2019

Anthony Joshua to face Andy Ruiz for world championship rematch in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: British boxer Anthony Joshua will face his Mexican rival, Andy Ruiz Jr, in Saudi Arabia for the World Heavyweight Boxing rematch in Diriyah Arena on December 7.

“I think my father would be happy and proud to watch this event take place in the Kingdom. When my father visited Saudi Arabia 48 years ago, he was warmly welcomed by its people. He repeated his visits when he came to perform Hajj and Umrah,” Rasheda Ali Walsh, daughter of the late boxing legend Muhammad Ali, said of the Clash on the Dunes fight.

This is Walsh’s second visit to Saudi Arabia to attend the World Boxing Championship, which she also attended last year in Jeddah, where she handed the Muhammad Ali Clay Championship Cup to boxer Callum Smith after defeating his opponent George Groves in the super middleweight bout. That championship was the first major tournament hosted by the Kingdom under the supervision of the General Sports Authority.

Commenting on her recent visit Jeddah, Walsh said: “Handing over my father’s cup is my biggest prize. It is not just a great achievement for the world champion, but an honor in itself for my father’s history and career in this sport.”

Joshua is trying to regain his WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO titles after suffering a painful defeat in New York to Ruiz Jr in June. He will be seeking revenge in the historic “Clash on the Dunes” match in front of more than 15,000 boxing fans.

Other professional boxers will also be competing, including Russia’s Alexander Povetkin, who will face his US counterpart Michael Hunter in the qualifying match for the World Boxing Championship.

Croatian star, Filip Hrgovic, will battle for the World Boxing Council Championship’s title with American Eric Molina.

The audience will also have the chance to watch former WBA Champion Scott Koenig return to the boxing circuit after a year-long absence due to injury.

The announcement comes as part of an entertainment season which will include the Formula E Championship and the Diriyah Tennis Cup, as well as equestrian championships in which winners will qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, in Japan.

Tickets are available on www.diriyahseason.sa.