SHOWS: SOFIA, BULGARIA (OCTOBER 13, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 1.
ENGLAND MANAGER GARETH SOUTHGATE AND CAPTAIN HARRY KANE ENTER NEWS CONFERENCE 2.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) ENGLAND MANAGER GARETH SOUTHGATE SAYING: "We are guests in another country, I have always said we have as many issues in our own country to resolve as anywhere else.
So everybody wants us to be talking about football for the players of both teams the same and we had to prepare our players because of what happened to us in Montenegro so that was the process that we needed to go through before our next away fixtures but outside of that we trust the authorities to make sure everything is in place and are all, everybody involved with the game from both countries is wanting to speak about the match." 3.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) ENGLAND CAPTAIN HARRY KANE SAYING: "Well I think the most important thing, and I think we are all fully focused on the game tomorrow night and getting the three points and like I said, putting us in a great position.
We had a meeting at the start of the week on things that could happen but again they may not happen as well so there's obviously a protocol in place that UEFA have set but from my point of view and the players' point of view, we're here to do a job tomorrow night on the football pitch and hopefully we don't have to cross that bridge so yeah, we'll see what happens but our full focus is on the game and that's it." 5.
WIDE OF NEWS CONFERENCE 6.
SOUTHGATE AND KANE LEAVE NEWS CONFERENCE 8.
(SOUNDBITE) (Bulgarian) BULGARIA MANAGER KRASIMIR BALAKOV, SAYING: "We do not have a problem with racism in the Bulgarian championship.
We have many black skinned players in the Bulgarian championship and we do not have such problem with racism, as you have in England, perhaps." 10.
(SOUNDBITE)(Bulgarian) KRASIMIR BALAKOV SAYING: "Once again, this is not an issue, which happened recently or frequently, so I think tomorrow we would not have this problem.
We shouldn't focus on this problem so much, but on football instead.
We are here to play football and we should not bother with something which has not happened yet." 11.
(SOUNDBITE)(Bulgarian) BULGARIA DEFENDER GEORGI PASHOV SAYING: "I have never had a problem with racism here and I spent all my career in Bulgaria so far." 13.
PHOTOGRAPHER STORY: Managers and players from both England and Bulgaria tried to keep the conversation on their Euro qualifier matchup as racism issues dominated their news conference Sunday (October 13) in Sofia.
England captain Harry Kane said their focus was on getting three points and the squad would deal with any racist abuse issues if they happen while Bulgarian manager Krasimir Balakov claimed there was nothing to worry about.
During England's last trip to Sofia in 2011, Bulgarian supporters made monkey chants at visiting black players, prompting UEFA to fine the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) 40,000 euros ($44,072.00).
England striker Tammy Abraham indicated recently that the players could act as a group and leave the pitch if subjected to abuse in qualifiers with Bulgarian soccer chief Borislav Mihaylov expressing "extreme disappointment" at the England players' comments ahead of the match and ssaying it was "unjust branding" of local fans.
UEFA ordered the partial closure of Bulgaria's Vasil Levski stadium after racist behaviour by their supporters in Euro 2020 qualifiers with the Czechs and Kosovo in June.
England top their group with 12 points and can qualify for next year's finals during the trip east.
(Production: Annette Faydenko)