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Bulgaria v. England: Let’s Talk About Racism Yet Again

England won a Euro qualifier but who actually cares when players are constantly being forced to listen to racism as they try to do their jobs?

Bulgaria v England - UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying - Group A - Vasil Levski National Stadium Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images

I should start off by saying this: I am very, very sick of writing about racism. Unfortunately, the world seems pretty apathetic towards how I (and many other people of colour) feel about this subject and continues to force us to think about just how little the sport we love cares about us.

In case you missed it, several black English players were subjected to virulent racist abuse during England’s 6-0 victory over Bulgaria today. Bulgarian fans threw in a few Nazi salutes, as well, presumably to really hammer the racism home. Gareth Southgate complained to the officials, who made an announcement threatening a match suspension and then, as always, did absolutely nothing to follow through on that.

The details of what happened, as well as exactly how UEFA has (once again) failed its players and its fans, were covered in detail by Kim McCauley over on the main SBNation site. Kim’s piece is an excellent read and forces us to ask—yet again—what new policies UEFA should adopt to deal with racist behaviour during a game and consider—yet again—what lines need to be crossed before their existing protocol comes into effect.

Should the game have been stopped? Yes. Should the Bulgarian FA face some sort of fine and see consequences for their refusal to address fan behaviour over the past few games? Definitely. Is anything likely to happen beyond a few more days of outrage (and pats on the back for the way the entire English team showed ‘grace under pressure’)? Probably not.

And after decades of watching the people in charge do absolutely nothing to address the everyday horrors black players have to deal with at their workplace, it’s unlikely that anyone expects any different, either.

We’re all tired. We just want to stop talking about this, we want to stop thinking about this, and we want players to be able to do their jobs without worrying about when in a game they’ll start hearing jeers and taunts because of the colour of their skin.

But until organizations like UEFA and FIFA start to take the humanity of their players and fans more seriously than they do their profits, we’ll just keep ending up here, exhausted and having to demonstrate once again just how deep the wounds are this time.

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