Tyrone Mings and other members of the England national team were subject to racism from Bulgarian fans – marring the Aston Villa defenders debut and continuing an ongoing issue from Eastern European sides.
Tyrone Mings made his England international debut at the Stadion Vasil Levski in Sofia this evening as the England national team faced Bulgaria in their eighth of ten UEFA EURO Qualification games.
Adorning the red away kit of the national team and paired on the left-hand side of defence, with Harry Maguire favoured on the right, Mings had won two headers within the first two minutes of the game.
Tyrone’s habitual blocking of shots forced Jordan Pickford into a save just after the tenth minute, where for Aston Villa it has caused a few issues earlier this season when Tom Heaton could not save deflected shots for the opposition – although the Aston Villa defender was aware enough to use his pace to knock the rebounded ball past the Bulgarian attacker and out of any initial danger.
There were one or two signs of Mings’ inexperienced position in the squad as he instructed Ben Chilwell to close down a Bulgarian counter-attack – which the fullback was reluctant to do and forced Harry Winks to do so instead. With Aston Villa, defensive team-mates generally do what they’re told when Mings has given his orders.
On some occasions, whenever some of England’s black footballers touched the ball, there was what sounded like racial abuse from the stands. Booing, and potential ‘monkey’ noises. This was the case for Raheem Sterling, and Tyrone Mings. There was one scene where these noises were made and Mings looked towards the crowd, which almost cemented what was happening in the stands.
An announcement came through the tannoy, in Bulgarian, stating:
“Because of racist behaviour which is interfering with the game, the referee has indicated he may have to suspend the match. Please be in no doubt that the game may be suspended and abandoned if racist behaviour continues.”
The abuse continued, and England manager Gareth Southgate took the issue to the fourth official once more as a number of hooded Bulgarian fans left the stands, either via their own volition or through forced means.
According to Sky Sports News, it was Mings who reported the abuse to Harry Kane, who first mentioned it to the games Croatian referee. A video surfaced of Tyrone Mings shouting towards the linesman, asking if “he heard that”.
The game continued for a second half, and the first ten minutes of it saw Mings concede a foul and undergo one of his trademark surging runs as the centre-back marauded forwards through the Bulgarian midfield.
A third discussion was undertaken 20 or so minutes into the second half after microphones near the pitch side, but the players continued to play through any abuse.
Mings had not been tested via Bulgaria’s football to this point, but looked at home in an England shirt and offered supporters a view of his talent with his slick Cruyff turn to breeze past one of the home side’s attackers.
Chants from the England fans echoed around the stadium – “who put the ball in the racist’s net, half our ****ing team did”.
England went on to win 6-0, with a strong imposing defensive performance when called upon – which wasn’t often – from Tyrone Mings.
Positive steps were taken towards the eradication of racism in regards to the games twin suspension within the first half. The discussion will surround whether the dominating win says more in the game than making history with a stance of walking away from the game would have.
It is a shame that Mings and other black English players were subject to this racism from the stands, and is yet another tar on Eastern European football in regards to UEFA’s handling of such situations.
Earlier this year, former Aston Villa striker Savo Milosevic addressed Eastern European racism in football, stating that countries in this part of Europe “need more presence from UEFA officials, support and help, alongside punishment.”