Hristo Stoichkov was reduced to tears in response to the racist abuse which Bulgaria’s fans aimed at England’s players during their Euro 2020 qualifier on Monday evening.
Gareth Southgate’s side ran out 6-0 winners in Sofia but the game was marred by several incidents of racist abuse from the home supporters.
The referee halted the match twice in the first half as Nazi salutes and monkey noises were directed at England’s players from Bulgaria’s fans in the stands.
Stoichkov, who is considered as Bulgaria’s greatest-ever player and managed the national side for nearly three years, was working as a pundit for Mexican television channel TUDN during the match.
And when asked to comment on the events in his home nation, Stoichkov bowed his head and began to sob. Asked what the punishment should be for Bulgaria’s racist fans, Stoichkov replied: ‘That fans are not allowed in the stadium or even heavier punishments. Like in England for years. Five years without going to stadiums. People don’t deserve to suffer.’
Four Bulgarian fans have since been detained and questioned by police over their involvement. UEFA has charged the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) for the racist behaviour and the throwing of objects from home fans.
Borislav Mihaylov also resigned as president of the BFU after the prime minister, Boyko Borissov, called for his departure in the aftermath of the match.
Photo Credit: Getty