England's players could walk off the pitch during through their encounter with Bulgaria due to the disgusting racial abuse being aimed at Gareth Southgate's men.
In the build-up to the meeting, Three Lions striker Tammy Abraham was among the Three Lions players to caution their hosts that racist chanting from the crowd could see the visitors abandon the match. However, the supporters at Stadion Vasil Levski refused to heed the forward's warning as they watched their side get torn apart by the World Cup semi-finalists.
UEFA recently began a new protocol for dealing with racist behaviour at games, which involves a player first informing his captain of the abuse, with the skipper then relaying the information to the officials.
The next step sees the referee lead the players off of the pitch as a caution is announced via a public announcer to those in the stadium. If the abuse does not cease, a decision may be taken by the officials to abandon the fixture.
Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling netted either side of a brace from Ross Barkley to put England out of sight by half-time, Southgate's recruits building an unassailable 4-0 lead by the break.
Throughout the night, abuse from the stands had been growing, with Sterling, Rashford and debutant Tyrone Mings the main targets. Midway through the first period, the referee halted play as a stadium announcer informed supporters that the game could be suspended if their chanting continued.
A group of hooded Bulgarian ultras, all wearing black, were then seen leaving the stadium but it is unclear whether they were ejected or left voluntarily.
Soon after, Barkley made it three for England, yet the midfielder's goal only worsened the whistling and harassment from the stands, resulting in another stoppage that ended with a section of the crowd leaving the venue.
Due to the repeated interruptions, five minutes of time were added onto the opening half, with Sterling tucking away a delightful pass from Harry Kane to make it 4-0.
Here are some of the most poignant tweets on the incidents during the first half:
Bulgarian captain, Ivelin Popov, talking to supporters at the break, arguing with them, clearly realising that this game is heading for an abandonment if the home fans continue their monkey chants.— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) October 14, 2019
This is now more than a football match. It’s a test of football’s resolve to start dealing properly with racism.— Michael Calvin (@CalvinBook) October 14, 2019
England have been absolutely exemplary so far across the board in their response to this abuse.— Ben Haines (@benhainess) October 14, 2019
Gareth Southgate’s calmness, the communication between each other & their response through action on the pitch.
The ‘sanctions’ on the other hand clearly not up to it.#BULENG
To the Bulgarian racists at tonight’s game, your getting schooled by an England team made up of what makes this country great, a diverse and energetic young team made up of black, white and mixed race players! 🏴 ✊🏻✊🏽✊🏿— Elliott Bennett (@Ebenno88) October 14, 2019