Bulgaria head coach Krasimir Balakov has resigned amid the fallout of the racist abuse suffered by England’s players on Monday night.
England’s 6-0 European Qualifier win in Sofia was overshadowed by racist chanting and Nazi salutes, with the game stopped twice during the first half as players considered walking off the pitch in protest of the abuse.
In an interview with Sky Sports Newsafter the game, Balakov said he did not hear monkey chants from the stands, and would only apologise to England’s players if UEFA proved that there had been discriminatory abuse.
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On Friday, the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) confirmed Balakov had stepped down, citing the “unsatisfactory” performance of the Bulgaria team in recent months, along with BFU president Borislav Mihaylov and the entire Executive Committee.
Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borissov asked Mihaylov to step down on Tuesday in the aftermath of the racist abuse, but this was initially turned down by the BFU over fears of political interference, which is not allowed by FIFA.
Step one of UEFA’s anti-racism protocol was activated just before the half-hour mark of Monday’s game, with the referee asking for a public address announcement to be made ordering the abuse to stop. However, it continued throughout.
Head coach Balakov said on Monday night: “I was concentrated on the game.
“I didn’t actually hear anything but I just talked to the English press downstairs and I told them that if this is proven to be true, then we have to be ashamed and we have to apologise for it. But, once again, first it has to be proven to be true.”
He later issued a statement making a “sincere apology” to the England team and anyone else offended by the racist abuse.
Meanwhile, Mihaylov said on Friday: “My decision to step down has nothing to do with prime minister Borissov asking for my resignation the day after the game vs England. My patience is over.
“We did what we had to do regarding the security during the game v England. Bulgaria is not a racist country.”
A full BFU statement on Friday read: “At today’s meeting of the Executive Committee of the Bulgarian Football Union, President Borislav Mihailov informed the members of his resignation and officially left his position in the management of the plant.
“Following the BFS Charter, the position of provisionally acting Union President was offered to First Vice President Yordan Lechkov, who declined to fill the post, as did Vice President Atanas Furnadzhiev.
“Under the circumstances, the members of the Executive Committee unanimously instructed the former Vice President Mikhail Kasabov to temporarily head the headquarters and organise an Extraordinary Congress for the election of a new governing body.
“The performance of Bulgaria’s men’s national team in recent months has been described as unsatisfactory, which is why the national selectman Krasimir Balakov resigned, which was accepted by the members of the IC. The task of proposing his deputy at the next meeting was assigned to the national team leader Yordan Lechkov.”
There is now a huge void in the governance of Bulgarian football – with no national manager, no president of the football association, and no executive committee in position to run the domestic or international game.