‘Everybody heard the chants’ – Former Town defender Mings on Sofia racism

England's Tyrone Mings (left) and Harry Kane (right) during the 6-0 win over Bulgaria. Picture: PA S

England's Tyrone Mings (left) and Harry Kane (right) during the 6-0 win over Bulgaria. Picture: PA SPORT - Credit: PA

Former Ipswich Town defender Tyrone Mings has revealed he heard racist abuse before last night’s Euro 2020 qualifier between England and Bulgaria had even kicked off.

Mings, who made more than 50 appearances for the Blues between 2013 and 2015, said everybody heard the chants, but that he and England teammates stood together and made certain decisions.

There were two breaks in play during the game in Sofia after abuse was reported to match officials.

An announcement was made in the 28th minute, following UEFA's anti-racism protocols, warning fans that any further incidents could result in the match being abandoned.

It was followed by another pause before half-time, when England decided to play the remainder of the game, which ended in a 6-0 thrashing of opponents Bulgaria.

Mings, 26, now playing for Aston Villa, said revealed the issue had started even before kick-off at the Vasili Levski National Stadium.

"I heard it before I even got to the other side of the pitch for the warm up," he said.

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"We then spoke about it when we came in after the warm up and, obviously, I don't need to spell it out.

"I think everybody heard the chants, but we stood together and we made certain decisions.

"Just before half-time, we were contemplating coming off the pitch because that was the next step after a stadium announcement but there were a couple of minutes to go to half-time.

"So we thought we'd play the couple of minutes, go into half-time and talk about it then which we did and we made a collective decision.

"Everyone was happy to continue, everyone was happy to see if things improved in the second half and I think it was important that we allowed the correct protocol to be followed and things were better in the second half."

Mings insisted he was not personally affected by the abuse, which he said was the first time he had been targeted throughout his football career.

"It did not affect my feelings one bit. I felt a bit sorry for the people that have these views," he added.

"I feel it is not a reflection of the views of the whole country and I feel that the appropriate steps were taken.

"It didn't affect my feeling but I was aware that we had to follow the right protocols, and not think it does not affect me so I won't report it.

"I have a duty to people that don't have a voice or that perhaps are abused and it does hurt or get to them. I don't know why it does not affect me, it just doesn't."

While step two of UEFA's protocol was not initiated, Mings was satisfied with the process and pleased with how the players stuck together.

When asked if he felt the protocols had worked, he said: "They did, yes.

"I didn't hear anything in the second half. I can't speak for everybody, but I can speak for myself. So I think fans were removed and if that was the case then I think the protocol has definitely worked.

"We were here to play football, so we didn't want to really be having these conversations but it was important we made a collective decision.

"We represent a lot of people and we have to not just make a stance for ourselves, but we have to make it clear these things won't be accepted. So it was important to consult everyone at half-time and everybody made the decision, and we played on the whole game."

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