Mansfield Town boss John Dempster today slammed the ‘shameful’ behaviour of Bulgarian supporters for their racial abuse of England players in last night’s 6-0 European Championship qualifier win in Sofia.
Monkey noises and Nazi salutes saw the game twice stopped and Dempster said he was appalled this behaviour could still be going on in 2019.
Stags had their own issues over racism last year when comments made by Sheffield Wednesday’s Fernando Forestieri to Stags skipper Krystian Pearce ended up in a mass brawl and court cases.
And Dempster can remember seeing a young team mate suffer racial abuse as young as 15 which is something that has never left him.
“It was shameful last night,” said Dempster.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes how some of the Bulgarian supporters were behaving.
“In any country or any part of a society you can’t believe that behaviour still goes on.
“I thought the England players and staff handled it well.
“We are all going to make a stand against anything like that.
“We have had circumstances here in the past when our captain was involved in something untoward.
“It is mind-boggling. I can’t get my head round it when you see people behaving like that.
“International football took a back seat, the performance of the England players – the 6-0 win – was almost irrelevant.
“You end up talking about something as shameful as that and there is no place for it in the world never mind football.”
UEFA’s three-stage anti-racism protocol was called into action for the first time and the game stopped twice, one step away from an abandonment.
“It is good we are looking at protocol to highlight the problems we’ve got,” said Dempster.
“Whether that worked the way they wanted it to work yesterday, I am not sure. It’s not something I am an expert in.
“But it’s brilliant the way it’s been highlighted. Ian Wright spoke really well at half-time about it being a brilliant day because of the stance people are now making and it’s not getting swept under the carpet like it maybe was in previous years.
“It was an absolute disgrace. For human beings to be acting like that is shocking.”
He added: “When I was doing my first and second year pro, it was around the time the Kick It Out campaign had really come in. We did things like wear tee shirts. It’s come on loads since and rightly so.”
Dempster has never forgotten his first experience of players suffering such abuse.
“I witnessed a couple of incidents when I was playing U15s. One of my team mates was racially abused,” he said.
“You saw the effect it had on him on the pitch and his family on the touchline. It was a horrible feeling, even though I wasn’t directly involved.
“Watching a young team mate being abused and the effect it had on him, and the anger and emotion it brought out in him, was horrible to see.
“From that day forward it stuck with me. So to see it still going on all these years later last night, there is no other word but shameful.”