Joe Marler said England have no fears as they prepare for Saturday's Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Australia.

Marler came out of test retirement at the end of the last season to join up with Eddie Jones' England squad, who are well rested for the clash in Oita having had their final pool game against France abandoned due to Typhoon Hagibis.

The 29-year-old Marler was part of the England team that did not reach the last eight in 2015, but believes the 2019 squad are better equipped to embrace the challenges of knockout rugby.  

"I don't think it's pressure. The group has now got a mind-set of 'bring it on – bring on the challenges'," he told reporters.

"We embrace it and look forward to it as opposed to shying away from it.

"I have been involved in teams who have let nerves overcome them, caved in and allowed them to become negative. I don't feel that in this group. The boys embrace the nervousness and use it as a positive energy to drive us on."

Marler had retired from internationals in 2018 due to family reasons but could not resist the opportunity to win a World Cup with England, having been called into the squad for the showpiece tournament in Japan.

"That was part of the reason I came out of retirement. I could see the potential in this group and I wanted a taste of that. That's ultimately what's driving me on for the next couple of weeks," he added.

"It hasn't been easy. I've had to work my buns off to try and get back to an emotional and mental state capable of contributing to the squad the best I can.

"And the physical state too. That has been even harder. You come out of it for a year and you forget how fast they do everything."

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has called for "new, stronger and more effective ways to eradicate racism in football" after England players were subjected to abuse in Bulgaria.

UEFA has charged the Bulgarian Football Union over racist behaviour by fans during England's 6-0 Euro 2020 qualifying win.

The game was halted twice before half-time and a group of supporters who made "monkey chants" and Nazi salutes were ejected from the ground.

Tuesday's fallout from those shameful scenes included BFU president Borislav Mihaylov resigning after Prime Minister Boyko Borissov threatened to cut funding if he did not step down.

FIFA pledged to extend any sanctions imposed by UEFA worldwide and Infantino, who previously fronted European football's governing body, suggested now is the time for football to take a harder line against racism, including life bans for any perpetrators.

"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," he said.

"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. 

"When we proposed the three-step procedure in 2009 when I was at UEFA, and then made the regulations even tougher a few years later, we could not have imagined that so shortly thereafter we would again be having to think of how to combat this obnoxious disease that seems to be getting even worse in some parts of the world."

Infantino added: "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."

UEFA's three-step procedure to deal with racist incidents was partially enacted during Monday's match, with the initial stoppage coming after England players reported chants to the referee and an announcement calling for the abuse to cease was made over the stadium's public address system.

After a further complaint, match official Ivan Bebek asked England manager Gareth Southgate and captain Harry Kane whether he wished for them to take the teams from the field – in line with step two.

The close proximity to half-time was a factor in England being minded to play on and Southgate credited Bebek's conduct throughout as being "outstanding".

England debutant Tyrone Mings confirmed the players unanimously agreed to continue playing at half-time. The third step in the UEFA plan after taking the players from the field is an abandonment if abuse persists.

Infantino's UEFA successor Aleksander Ceferin made a strong defence of his organisation's record when it comes to dealing with racism.

"As a governing body, I know we are not going to win any popularity contests. But some of the views expressed about UEFA’s approach to fighting racism have been a long way off the mark," he said.

"UEFA, in close cooperation with the FARE network (Football Against Racism Europe), instituted the three-stage protocol for identifying and tackling racist behaviour during games.

"UEFA's sanctions are among the toughest in sport for clubs and associations whose supporters are racist at our matches."

Bulgaria captain Ivelin Popov has warned foreign players will not want to play in his homeland after the racist abuse that stained Monday's Euro 2020 qualifier against England.

UEFA has charged the Bulgarian Football Union over the actions of some fans at Vasil Levski National Stadium during the 6-0 defeat, namely racist chants and Nazi salutes.

The game was halted twice before half-time due to the abuse and Popov, 31, was praised for remonstrating with a group of supporters at the interval.

Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford, who opened the scoring for England, tweeted: "Also been told what the Bulgaria captain did at half-time. 

"To stand alone and do the right thing takes courage and acts like that shouldn’t go unnoticed. #NoToRacism."

Bulgaria head coach Krasimir Balakov, who claimed not to have heard the offensive chants, suggested after the match that Popov was addressing his team's poor performance.

However, the Rostov midfielder left no doubt he was standing up against a blight on the game that "needs to be eradicated".

"First, I tried to talk with the stewards who were supposed to control the situation," Popov said, as quoted by the Guardian.

"We're all suffering from that kind of behaviour. Do you think a foreign player would like to come and play in Bulgaria after what happened tonight?

"Racism is a world problem that needs to be eradicated. We're all people regardless of the skin colour."

On Tuesday, BFU president Borislav Mihaylov resigned after Prime Minister Boyko Borissov threatened to cut funding if he did not step down.

UEFA has charged the Bulgarian Football Union over racist behaviour by Bulgaria fans during Monday's Euro 2020 qualifier against England in Sofia.

England's 6-0 win was halted twice before half-time due to racist abuse being directed towards black players in the visitors' line-up.

A section of supporters who were ejected from Vasil Levski National Stadium aimed "monkey chants" at Raheem Sterling, Tyrone Mings and Marcus Rashford and were also seen making Nazi salutes.

Tuesday's fallout from the shameful scenes has included BFU president Borislav Mihaylov resigning after Prime Minister Boyko Borissov threatened to cut funding if he did not step down.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin urged the "football family" and authorities including governments to "wage war on the racists" and his organisation has now taken action.

A statement issued by UEFA read: "Disciplinary proceedings have been opened following the UEFA European Qualifiers match between Bulgaria and England (0-6), played on October 14.

"Charges against Bulgarian Football Union: Racist behaviour (chants, Nazi salutes)… Throwing of objects… Disruption of national anthem… Replays on giant screen."

The Football Association must also answer a charge of disrupting a national anthem after England fans jeered during the pre-match pleasantries.

Additionally, an "insufficient number of travelling stewards" mean the FA is accused of falling foul of UEFA's safety and security regulations.

UEFA's Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body will deal with the case.

Elsewhere, UEFA is looking into salutes performed by Turkey's players during their matches against Albania and France – an apparent show of support for their country's military offensive in Kurdish-held regions in northern Syria.

European football's governing body prohibits provocative political statements inside stadiums.

UEFA said: "An Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector has been appointed to initiate disciplinary investigations with regard to potential provocative political behaviour by players of the national team of the Turkish Football Federation on the occasion of the 2020 European Championship Qualifying Round matches played against the national team of the Football Association of Albania on 11 October 2019 and the national team of the French Football Federation on 14 October 2019, respectively."

Bulgaria goalkeeper Plamen Iliev has accused England players of overreacting in the face of racist abuse during their Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia.

Gareth Southgate's team cruised to a 6-0 victory in the Bulgarian capital, with Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling both scoring twice to take England to the brink of qualification.

But Sterling was one of the players targeted by racist chanting during the match, which was stopped twice before half-time – initially for a stadium announcement calling for the abuse to cease before a group of Bulgaria fans were ejected from the Vasil Levski National Stadium.

Southgate and his players discussed whether they should resume the match during half-time before closing out a commanding win, with the abuse they received widely condemned afterwards.

However, Bulgaria head coach Krasimir Balakov claimed he did not hear the offensive chanting and said it must be "proven" before his country received any punishment.

That view was apparently not shared at board level, with Bulgarian Football Union president Borislav Mihaylov – a former international goalkeeper for Bulgaria – tending his resignation after prime minister Boyko Borissov threatened to cut the organisation's funding if he remained in the wake of Monday's shameful scenes.

But Bulgaria's current goalkeeper fell into line with the views expressed by his coach.

"If I am honest, I believe they [the fans] behaved well,” Iliev said, as quoted by the Guardian.

"There wasn't any abuse [as far as I could hear] and I think they [the England players] overreacted a bit.

"The public was on a good level – I didn’t hear any bad language used towards their or our players."

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin called on the "football family" and governments to "wage war on the racists" on Tuesday in a strongly worded statement.

James Horwill thinks the cancellation of England's Rugby World Cup clash with France could work in Australia's favour when the teams meet in a blockbuster quarter-final on Saturday.

England were due to face Les Bleus in their final Pool C match in Yokohama last weekend, but Typhoon Hagibis prevented the fixture from going ahead.

It led to England coach Eddie Jones saying the typhoon gods must be smiling on his team after they were given a weekend off and finished top to set up a showdown with the Wallabies.

Yet former Australia captain Horwill believes England will be wishing they had locked horns for a pool decider with their Six Nations rivals, having won their other three games at a canter.

Horwill told Omnisport: "England are a good side, well drilled and very disciplined with what they do. When they get on the front foot, they are very hard to stop.

"I think they would have liked to have had that game against France because it would have been a strong test and a really challenge.

"They have come through the pool stage being able to deal with the opposition quite comfortably, which is obviously a good thing for them, but they haven't had a big test.

"It depends on how you look at it. From the point of view of someone like Billy Vunipola, with a sore ankle, he's had extra time to rest up and get fit in a week off.

"They would have wanted to play again, but they should feel good going into the game. But if the heat comes sometimes you need to think, 'We've been here before last week and we know how to get through it'.

"Obviously that is not something England have had to deal with."

UEFA has charged the Bulgarian Football Union over racist behaviour by Bulgaria fans during Monday's Euro 2020 qualifier against England in Sofia.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin called on the "football family" and governments to "wage war on the racists" after England players became the latest targets for sickening abuse.

Ceferin launched a staunch defence on Tuesday of the governing body's approach to tackling racism and called for the large-scale response after the scenes that marred England's 6-0 win over Bulgaria.

The Euro 2020 qualifying match in Sofia was overshadowed by the sound of monkey chants and the sight of Nazi salutes from a section of home supporters.

England debutant Tyrone Mings called the disgraceful scenes to the attention of the assistant referee, triggering the first implementation of a new three-step UEFA protocol.

The match was paused and an announcement was made over the public address system at the Vasil Levski National Stadium, urging offending fans to desist.

It did not escalate to the second and third protocol stages, which would have seen the players return to the dressing rooms ahead of a possible abandonment, but the damage had nonetheless been done.

UEFA has come under fire for its handling of racism within football, but Ceferin insists the European organisation has adopted a tough stance and he urged wider society to take a stand on the issue.

Ceferin said: "Believe me, UEFA is committed to doing everything it can to eliminate this disease from football. We cannot afford to be content with this; we must always strive to strengthen our resolve.

"More broadly, the football family – everyone from administrators to players, coaches and fans – needs to work with governments and NGOs to wage war on the racists and to marginalise their abhorrent views to the fringes of society.

"Football associations themselves cannot solve this problem. Governments too need to do more in this area. Only by working together in the name of decency and honour will we make progress."

Bulgaria Football Union president Borislav Mihaylov resigned on Tuesday after government pressure on him to make way for new leadership.

"There were times, not long ago, when the football family thought that the scourge of racism was a distant memory," Ceferin said.

"The last couple of years have taught us that such thinking was, at best, complacent.

"The rise of nationalism across the continent has fuelled some unacceptable behaviour and some have taken it upon themselves to think that a football crowd is the right place to give voice to their appalling views.

"As a governing body, I know we are not going to win any popularity contests. But some of the views expressed about UEFA’s approach to fighting racism have been a long way off the mark.

"UEFA, in close cooperation with the FARE network (Football Against Racism Europe), instituted the three-stage protocol for identifying and tackling racist behaviour during games.

"UEFA’s sanctions are among the toughest in sport for clubs and associations whose supporters are racist at our matches."

Bulgaria's prime minister has called for the resignation of the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) president after the country's 6-0 defeat to England in Monday's controversial Euro 2020 qualifying match.

Prime minister Boyko Borissov described the loss in Sofia as a "shameful" result and condemned the the racist abuse directed at England players, which forced two stoppages in play in the first half.

The first break prompted an appeal over the stadium's public address system urging fans to refrain from racist behaviour, in line with UEFA protocols.

Several spectators left the stadium during a second, more prolonged stoppage shortly before half-time. 

In a statement published on social media, Borissov threatened to withhold support and funding for the BFU unless its president, former Levski Sofia and Reading goalkeeper Borislav Mihaylov, steps down.

The statement read: "I urge Borislav Mihaylov to immediately resign as president of the Bulgarian Football Union!

"After yesterday's shameful loss of the Bulgarian national team and in view of the poor results of our football, I ordered the minister [of youth and sports] Krasen Kralev to terminate any relations with the Bulgarian Football Union, including financial ones, until Borislav Mihaylov's resignation.

"I also strongly condemn the behaviour of some of those present at the stadium.

"It is unacceptable that Bulgaria, which is one of the most tolerant countries in the world, and [where] people of different ethnicities and religions live in peace, [is] associated with racism and xenophobia."

England were leading 4-0 when Gareth Southgate and his players chose to see out the remaining 45 minutes following a half-time discussion.

After the match, Bulgaria head coach Krasimir Balakov claimed not to have heard the racist taunts.

"I was concentrating on the game, I didn't hear anything," Balakov said.

"I just talked to the English press and I told them that if this is proven to be true then we have to be ashamed and apologise for it.

"But once again, first it has to be proven to be true."

Bulgaria captain Ivelin Popov was seen talking with a section of Bulgaria supporters at half-time, with his actions drawing praise from England forward Marcus Rashford.

England number eight Billy Vunipola trained on Tuesday and is "very likely" to start Saturday's Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Australia, according to assistant coach John Mitchell.

The Saracens man twisted an ankle in the pool-stage win over Argentina and would not have been risked at the weekend had England's clash with France gone ahead, rather than being cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis.

Vunipola has returned to full training, however, and Mitchell is confident he will be fit for the clash with the Wallabies in Oita.

"Billy is progressing really well," he said. "He has trained again today so we are very confident in progression each day.

"He is a very important player to us and a very likeable player as well. He fits well within the team."

Asked to rate Vunipola's chances of playing, he added: "Very likely."

England had another observer at training with Australian rugby league legend Ricky Stuart invited to attend by head coach Eddie Jones.

Stuart's involvement has raised eyebrows in the Australia camp, not least from their coach Michael Cheika, but Mitchell is confident England's players will benefit.

He said: "Ricky and his coaching group have just arrived today. It's great to see them again.

"One of the great things I believe Eddie does in our environment is encourage a learning environment.

"Ricky is not the only coach from rugby league or any other sport that has come in, we have them on a regular basis. We want to see what we are doing can be improved and we like to learn off others and that's the great opportunity we have.

"It's just a watching, learning and sharing process that occurs, to get somebody in we can share and learn off and create a stimulus around. They've just recently played in one of the major rugby league competitions in the world [NRL grand final], you'd be stupid if you weren't able to gain something from that."

Mitchell, who has coached in Australia with the Western Force, is expecting a tough game against Cheika's men.

"They will be clever at the weekend," he said.

"They are always clever and always have the ability to surprise. They love ball in their hands which is something which they thrive on."

UEFA is awaiting reports from the referee and match delegate before deciding their next move following the racist abuse directed at England players in Sofia on Monday.

Gareth Southgate's side beat Bulgaria 6-0 in Euro 2020 qualifying but the match was overshadowed by monkey chants and Nazi salutes from home supporters at the Vasil Levski National Stadium.

The incidents prompted the match to be halted twice in the first half - following UEFA protocol for tackling incidents of abuse at games - with a third meaning the game would have been abandoned.

Omnisport understands the Control, Ethics and Disciplinary (CEDB) arm of European football's governing body will now assess reports from the match official Ivan Bebek as well as the match delegate, who will also receive information provided by spotters from anti-racism group FARE.

The CEDB can also take reports from other sources, including the Football Association (FA), which has already called for an investigation "as a matter of urgency".

An FA statement read: "We can confirm that England players were subjected to abhorrent racist chanting while playing in the Euro 2020 qualifier against Bulgaria.

"This is unacceptable at any level of the game and our immediate focus is supporting the players and staff involved.

"As we are sadly aware, this is not the first time our players have been subjected to this level of abuse and there is no place for this kind of behaviour in society, let alone in football.

"We will be asking UEFA to investigate as a matter of urgency."

Bulgaria coach Krasimir Balakov claimed not to have heard the chanting and accused the England supporters of "unacceptable" behaviour.

He told ITV Sport: "I personally did not hear the chanting that you are most probably referring to. I saw that the referee stopped the game.

"But I also have to say that the unacceptable behaviour was not only on behalf of the Bulgaria fans but also the English fans, who were whistling and shouting during the Bulgarian national anthem.

"During the second half they used words against our fans, which I find unacceptable."

England captain Harry Kane said he is proud of his team-mates after the country's Euro 2020 qualifier was marred by racism in Bulgaria.

Monday's clash in Sofia was overshadowed by racist abuse directed towards England players during their 6-0 rout of hosts Bulgaria.

Play was stopped twice before half-time during a comfortable victory for England, with an address over the Vasil Levski National Stadium urging an end to racist chanting before a number of Bulgaria fans were removed from the ground.

England players informed the match officials of the discriminatory behaviour and an abandonment looked possible at one stage, though the Group A fixture was completed amid the racial taunts.

After the match, Kane – who rounded out the scoring following Marcus Rashford's opener and braces from Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling – told reporters: "Well I'm definitely proud of my team-mates and my friends and everyone involved in our nation tonight. It wasn't easy for anyone.

"We made a decision as a team to carry on playing. You see us coming together before half-time and we said we would play until half-time then get together and decide what we want to do.

"Everyone wanted to carry on and do their talking on the pitch. It's not easy to play in circumstances like that but the 6-0 victory and the way we played, the manner in which we played I'm extremely proud of for sure."

On what was said at half-time, Kane added: "There was a discussion in the changing room and everyone wanted to carry on playing.

"If there were players that didn't we wouldn't have come back out and played. That shows the squad and the maturity and the character that everyone wanted to come back out and play."

Jordan Henderson demanded an apology from Krasimir Balakov after the Bulgaria head coach did not offer outright condemnation of the racist abuse directed towards England players during their 6-0 Euro 2020 qualifying win in Sofia.

Play was stopped twice before half-time during a comfortable victory for Gareth Southgate's men on Monday, with an address over the Vasil Levski National Stadium urging an end to racist chanting before a number of Bulgaria fans were removed from the ground.

England players informed the match officials of the discriminatory behaviour and an abandonment looked possible at one stage, although Harry Kane would ultimately round out an emphatic scoreline set in motion by Marcus Rashford's blistering opener and embellished by braces from Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley.

Henderson exchanged words with Balakov during one of the breaks in play and was aghast when he heard the 53-year-old had stated after the game that the allegations of racism must be "proven", choosing instead to criticise the behaviour of England supporters and a pre-match focus upon a potential for racist incidents.

"I had a few words with the manager. It wasn't acceptable – something needs to be done," the Liverpool captain told Sky Sports News.

"He needs to apologise now, really, on behalf of the team and the fans. He knows what was going on. He was asking me what the problem was.

"When I told him he knew what was going on, it was baffling how he didn't, really. Hopefully he looks back and apologises because anyone watching that game would be disgusted really."

England discussed whether they should resume the match at half-time and Henderson, angered by what had transpired, took pride in their unanimous response in the face of adversity.

"I felt angry," he said. "They're my team-mates, my friends who I've known for a long time and I share a dressing room with.

"It was shocking to see. I was so angry at one point but the game goes on, you've got to switch the focus to the football.

"At half-time we spoke about it, we wanted to carry on. If one person said they didn't want to go out then we wouldn't have done and that would have been it.

"But everybody's message was we wanted to make them suffer and not make them win. I felt we did that brilliantly."

Anti-racism campaigners Kick It Out has slammed UEFA for its handling of England's Euro 2020 qualifier against Bulgaria, and its previous punishments for racial abuse.

England's 6-0 win on Monday was halted twice in the first half, with the match seemingly set to be abandoned amid chants from sections of Bulgaria's support at Vasil Levski National Stadium, which was partially shut due to previous incidents of racist abuse from some home supporters.

Gareth Southgate's England elected to come back out for the second half, with a group of Bulgaria fans ejected from the ground during the second stoppage.

During the first stoppage, a message was read out over the public address system – following UEFA's three-step protocol for tackling incidents of abuse at games.

However, Kick It Out has questioned why the protocol was not followed afterwards, while criticising UEFA's attempts at tackling racism.

"We are sickened by the disgusting racist abuse directed at England men's team tonight by Bulgaria supporters – including TV footage which appeared to show Nazi salutes and monkey noises," Kick It Out stated.

"We applaud Gareth Southgate, his staff and players for the actions taken in reporting the abhorrent abuse, and offer our full support to the entire squad, their families and anyone affected by those appalling scenes.

"We are encouraged that the protocol was initially enforced by the match officials, but UEFA must explain why players weren't sent to the dressing room during Step Two, as is clearly stated in the rules.

"TV footage also clearly shows that racist abuse continued in the second half, so it is unacceptable that Step Three was not enforced. This match should have been abandoned by the officials.

"It's now time for UEFA to step up and show some leadership. For far too long, they have consistently failed to take effective action.

"The fact Bulgaria are already hosting this game with a partial stadium closure for racist abuse shows that UEFA's sanctions are not fit for purpose.

"There can be no more pitiful fines or short stadium bans. If UEFA care at all about tackling discrimination – and if the Equal Game campaign means anything – then points deductions and tournament expulsion must follow."

Bulgaria head coach Krasimir Balakov claimed not to have heard racist chanting during his team's 6-0 loss to England in Sofia and accused the travelling supporters of "unacceptable" behaviour.

Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling each hit braces as Gareth Southgate's men bounced back from defeat to the Czech Republic in style, bringing qualification for Euro 2020 within touching distance.

But the contest was sullied by abuse directed towards some of the travelling players, which was reported to the match officials and resulted in two delays to the action before half-time.

Before the match, Balakov accused England of having a bigger problem with racism in football than his own country, and he once again sought to share the blame after the widely condemned scenes that stained Monday's match.

"I personally did not hear the chanting that you are most probably referring to. I saw that the referee stopped the game," he told ITV.

"But I also have to say that the unacceptable behaviour was not only on behalf of the Bulgaria fans but also the English fans, who were whistling and shouting during the Bulgarian national anthem.

"During the second half they used words against our fans, which I find unacceptable."

Balakov said he felt an increased focus upon the potential of racist incidents before the game made them more likely, while he called for the abuse to be "proven" despite audible monkey chants during the contest and the spectacle of some Bulgaria fans being ejected.

"We've had this problem ever since England were about to come to Bulgaria. All I've heard for three weeks is people talking about anything else but football," said Balakov.

"I don't think this was the proper manner to prepare and to play a football game. For three weeks, everyone was talking about one thing.

"If this turns out to be true, we are truly sorry and we as the Bulgarian national team and the Bulgarian Football Union are working very hard.

"Nobody wants to see this but let me tell you that this really has not happened in our games up until now. This happened now in the England game.

"If something can be proven then we are sorry but we cannot speak on behalf of some fans here."

Marcus Rashford opened the scoring for England and tweeted after the match to praise Bulgaria captain Ivelin Popov for remonstrating with supporters at half-time.

Popov's move was widely interpreted as a call for discriminatory chants to stop but Balakov told a post-match news conference he felt the Rostov midfielder was responding to complaints over a poor performance.

"I have no idea about this. If our captain spoke to the fans it is probably because they were unhappy about the way in which the team were performing," he added.

"The whole topic in the build-up to the game – the fans are emotional. You want me to say this and I have to say this, if something happened I'm sure it really was a small group of people who really were out of their minds because this is unacceptable… if it happened, of course."

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