UEFA have chance to take racism stand against Bulgaria, they must ban them from Euro 2020 | Football | Sport


It is really, really easy, UEFA.

Kick Bulgaria out of the Euro 2020 play-offs and begin to stand up to the bigots.

Laughably, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin defended his organisation’s record of fines and partial ground closures as a means of tackling the issue on racism.

Quite clearly from Monday night, it is not working.

The only way the morons who try so despicably to abuse Bulgaria’s opposition is to make it count against Bulgaria themselves.

And the opportunity to make an example is so clear it is almost a no-brainer.

Bulgaria finished in fifth place in League C of the Nations League.

With Finland, a place above them, looking set to qualify for Euro 2020 automatically and both Leagues A and B needing to make up the numbers in their own play-off deciders, the new back-door entry looks certain to be available to a team ranked just 62 in the world.

Slam it shut, UEFA.

By November, the details would have worked themselves out fully, another team can be promoted in Bulgaria’s place and the play-offs can all take place without them in March.

A lesson, hopefully, will be learned.

It is only through sporting sanctions that the racists will begin to learn they cannot win. A punishment with bite will lead to self-policing and ultimately the re-education of countries that are far too quick to bury their heads in the sand.

Even in Gareth Southgate’s press conference after Monday’s game, local journalists tried to shout down the England manager in denial.

But there is a danger even with no-brainer decisions if they are being made by an organisation that consistently shows its propensity to plough forward with no brains.

After the England players’ brave decision to invoke UEFA’s own protocols to send finally a strong and unmistakable message to the racists, the job of the European football authorities was a comparatively easy one.

Applaud the move. Support the move. Move things forward, finally.

Seize the opportunity presented by what Gareth Southgate himself described as the “biggest statement ever in international football”.

Bigger than any “initiative”. Bigger than the videos of star names condemning racism put out on a loop before games. Bigger than any of the endless banners.

Much, much bigger than the mealy mouthed rhetoric Ceferin came out with yesterday.

“The football family needs to work with governments and NGOs to wage war on the racists and to marginalise their abhorrent views to the fringes of society,” he said.

Yes, wage war. But UEFA are the ones with most of the weapons.

Now is the time to use them.


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