By Can Erozden
ANKARA (AA) - English national football team players slammed Bulgarian fans over their racist behavior during Monday's UEFA EURO 2020 qualifiers game.
Manchester City star Raheem Sterling, Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford and Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings were targeted in Sofia by many Bulgarian fans who called them monkeys.
"Feeling sorry for Bulgaria to be represented by such idiots in their stadium. Anyway.. 6-0 and we go back home, at least we did our job. Safe travel to our fans, u guys did well," Sterling tweeted early Tuesday.
"Very proud moment for me and my family tonight to make my England debut. The unfortunate incidents in the game were handled as well as possible & proud of how we handled it," Mings tweeted.
Rashford said that this type of behavior is unacceptable and should not happen in this day and age.
"Also been told what the Bulgaria captain did at half-time. To stand alone and do the right thing takes courage and acts like that shouldn’t go unnoticed. #NoToRacism," Rashford said.
Several Bulgarian fans in the Vasil Levski National Stadium raised monkey slogans and mimicked Nazi salutes to provoke the guest team.
England hammered Bulgaria 6-0 in the Group A match as Rashford scored the opener and Sterling put the ball into the Bulgarian net twice.
UEFA, European football's governing body, has repeatedly vowed to eliminate racism and discrimination from the game.
In recent years, UEFA released a video to raise awareness about racism, with many football stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic joining the campaign.
- Inter Milan star Lukaku faces racist abuse
A recent racist attack was performed in Italy as the Belgian striker of Inter Milan, Romelu Lukaku suffered a hate speech.
In September, an Italian sports commentator, Luciano Passirani, 80, had said the only way to stop might be to “give him 10 bananas to eat."
Referring to Lukaku’s power on the field, Passirani was sacked by Top Calcio 24.
Passirani tried to walk back his racist remarks about Lukaku.
"I'm not a racist, I'd like to apologize to Lukaku in person,” said Passirani, 80, as reported by the U.K.’s Daily Mail.
"A lack of tact and education does not belong to my way of being," he claimed.
Lukaku, 26, faced monkey sound jeers from fans of Italy’s Cagliari during a match.
On social media, Lukaku since called any type of discrimination unacceptable and called on all football federations to take steps against discrimination.
Lukaku was one of the top signings in 2019 summer as Inter signed him away from England's Manchester United for €65 million ($71.5 million).
He is the all-time top scorer for the Belgian national team, with 49 goals in 82 games.
Lukaku also helped Belgium win the bronze medal at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
- Italy's Atalanta fined over racist abuse
Similar to Lukaku, Fiorentina defender Dalbert suffered a racist abuse during an Italian league match against Atalanta on Sept. 22.
The 26-year-old Brazilian player asked the referee to stop the game over insults targeting him.
The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) fined Atalanta €10,000 ($11,000) for racism.
- FIFA slams Italy for incapacity
Separately FIFA slammed Italy for inefficiency in the fight against racism.
"You can't have racism in society or in football... In Italy, the situation hasn't improved," FIFA chief Gianni Infantino said in September as the racism should be removed from football.
"You can't be afraid to condemn racists, we need to combat them until they stop," Infantino said amid racist insults in Italy.
He added that Italy should impose stadium ban punishments against racist persons as the English football association implements.
FIFA has been calling all its member associations, leagues, clubs and disciplinary bodies for having 'a zero-tolerance approach' against racism and applying harsh sanctions.
The world football's governing body also says on its website that FIFA will go on 'to be at the forefront of the fight against racism'.