Jordan Henderson revealed England’s players were driven by the motivation to make Bulgaria supporters “suffer” for the racist abuse they doled out to the Three Lions on Monday night.
There were two breaks in play during the Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia after racist chanting was reported to the match officials, with England eventually running out comfortable 6-0 winners.
Following UEFA’s anti-racism protocols, an announcement was made in the 28th-minute warning fans that any further incidents could result in the match being abandoned, while another pause before half-time only added to the spectacle.
England decided at half-time to play the remainder of the game as braces from Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling and goals for Marcus Rashford and Harry Kane ensured a thumping win for the visitors.
While some questioned the decision of the visitors to play out the remainder of the qualifier, Henderson insisted the players had good reason to.
“It was disgusting,” the Liverpool midfielder said. “It shouldn’t be happening and something needs to be done about it but I thought the lads were outstanding and if I was angry I’m sure they were angry as well.
“I thought we let the football do the talking and we made them suffer, that is what we wanted to do. I obviously wasn’t happy with the situation that we were in, it wasn’t nice to be involved in and it shouldn’t be happening in 2019, it is very disappointing.
“But, at the same time, I felt as though as a team we dealt with it so well, we touched on it before we came here just in case it did happen and unfortunately it did.
“So we spoke together and the decision was that we carried on because if you leave the pitch and stop the game they win, really.
“That is how we looked at it, it is what the message was in the dressing room at half-time and we wanted to go out in the second half and make them suffer and make their team suffer on the pitch and I think we did that.”
UEFA on Tuesday charged the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) with the racist behaviour, throwing of objects and disruption of a national anthem by their fans.
The governing body’s president Aleksander Ceferin has urged the “football family” to “wage war on the racists”, while FIFA president Gianni Infantino called for “life bans from stadiums for those who are found guilty of racist behaviour at a football match”.
The English Football Association has also been charged with disruption of a national anthem, as well as providing an insufficient number of travelling stewards.
FIFA bossi Infantino has demanded “new, stronger and more effective ways to eradicate racism in football”.
Infantino said: “I call on all football governing bodies to join us and think together of new, stronger and more effective ways to eradicate racism in football.
“As a starting point, I suggest that all competition organisers enact regulations which envisage life bans from stadiums for those who are found guilty of racist behaviour at a football match. FIFA can then enforce such bans at a worldwide level.”
Infantino added: “So many times we say there is no place for racism in football, but nonetheless we still face challenges to tackle this problem in our sport, as we do in society.
“We will need the support of public authorities to help us identify and punish the culprits but we probably also need to think more broadly on what we can do to fix this.
On Tuesday, the BFU announced the resignation of its president Borislav Mihaylov, saying the current position was “detrimental to Bulgarian football”.