England’s handling of abuse from supporters in Bulgaria represented an “improvement” in the sport’s battle against racism, according to Glen Johnson.
Bulgaria were ordered to play two home matches behind closed doors, one of which is suspended for two years, and a £64,650 fine by UEFA on Tuesday following racist behaviour during England’s victory in Sofia earlier in October.
England could have chosen to leave the field after the game was stopped twice following incidents of racism, but Gareth Southgate’s side opted to complete the match, eventually sealing a 6-0 victory in the European Championships qualifier.
“There’s a lot of work still to do,” said former England international Johnson, who was speaking at a Football Association event to mark the final day of Black History Month.
“Obviously we all know what has happened and the game was tough for the guys but I think it was a start of what could be good. It’s clearly not there yet but it’s an improvement.
“If you see scenes like that then you have every right to (walk off).
“Most players wouldn’t want to but I think the decision should be taken away from the players anyway and I think Gareth and the staff handled the situation very well and they were clearly there for the players and if they felt they should have come off then they would have come off.”