Chelsea manager Frank Lampard praised the conduct of England’s players and staff in the face of vile racist abuse during Monday night’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Bulgaria.
The team’s black players were subjected to monkey chanting and loud booing during the game in Sofia, and a number of Bulgarian supporters were seen making Nazi salutes.
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, who recalled facing Bulgaria in 2011 when similar chants were directed at three of his black England team-mates, was impressed by how the current national side dealt with the abuse as a group.
“The collective nature of how England dealt with it, from manager through staff through players, was something really good to see and it’s not the end of the story, but it shows that we are moving in the right direction and it must carry on,” Lampard said at his Chelsea pre-match press conference on Friday.
“I kind of remember the game (in 2011). I travelled with England in Europe, in certain parts of Europe, and felt, what we all felt and maybe didn’t speak about enough.
“I think the big progression of Monday night and the positive, if you are going to try to take positives, is where we’ve got to now where I think the governing body and the organisations have to make a big step.”
Asked if he had spoken to his Chelsea players about it, he said: “They are strong boys, we know Tammy (Abraham) recently has suffered on this front to a different degree. They know I am there to support them.”
Abraham suffered racial abuse on social media earlier this season.
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe, whose striker Callum Wilson came on as a substitute in the 6-0 win, could not believe what he was seeing and said unfortunately it was something his player had become used to.
He said: “I spoke with Callum on Thursday and had a long chat with him about the situation. (The abuse) was incredibly disappointing to see. I watched it live.
“It was a tough watch, I have to say. I thought Callum and the rest of the players acted with real class and did a really good job with dealing with the situation and then getting on and playing the game.
“Callum’s fine. He’s a very, very strong character and unfortunately it’s nothing new for him to have to deal with.”
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola welcomed the fact that the first step of UEFA’s anti-racism protocol – a stadium announcement calling for the abuse to stop – was enacted.
“I think that UEFA made a step forward with this topic,” he said.
“They stopped the game twice or three times, so it is the first step. What would happen in the future we have spoken many times about that and always had the same answer: fight every day these kind of situations.
“The players are not alone, the managers are not alone, the clubs are not alone, when everybody’s involved.”
The Premier League had always intended to begin its No Room For Racism initiative this weekend, with City forward Raheem Sterling – one of the players abused in Sofia – featuring in a campaign video.
Everton manager Marco Silva, whose goalkeeper Jordan Pickford features in another of the promotional films, felt the team handled the abuse in the best possible way.
“It was great to see the maturity they showed,” he said.
“We were not there and we didn’t feel what they feel in that moment, but they showed great maturity in that moment.
“They went there to play for their national team and the atmosphere was really tough for them.
“They showed great things for me. In my opinion it was really good to see, a pleasure to see, not just because we had two players involved but all the national team that was playing there, it was really good to see.”