So much that happened in Sofia’s Vasil Levski Stadium on Monday night was completely sickening. From the monkey chants that forced debutant Tyrone Mings to turn towards the officials in disgust to the sight of black-clad Bulgarians brazenly performing Nazi salutes in the stands, this was an evening that shamed football.

Yet the most disappointing aspect of a thoroughly distasteful night came after the final whistle as the Bulgarian FA’s senior representatives closed ranks to either downplay the significance of the racist abuse that had rained on England’s black players or claim it had never happened in the first place.

Bulgaria’s manager, Krasimir Balakov, claimed he had not heard any racist chanting and insisted Bulgarian football did not have a problem over racism despite his side’s home stadium being partially closed for Monday’s game after previous incidences of racist behaviour in matches against Kosovo and the Czech Republic.

The Bulgarian FA opted not to issue a formal statement condemning the behaviour of a large number of their supporters, while a number of Bulgarian journalists interrupted press conferences delivered by Gareth Southgate and FA chairman Greg Clarke to suggest the racist incidents were being “exaggerated” or “untrue”.

That suggests either a systemic refusal to acknowledge that racism is a problem in Bulgarian football or a cowardly reluctance to tackle the Ultra groups that clearly wield a large amount of influence within the country as a whole and its capital, Sofia, in particular.

Either way, it is completely unacceptable, and while the Bulgarian Prime Minister made a welcome intervention yesterday when he called for Borislav Mihaylov to resign as president of the Bulgarian FA, it is clear that the body in charge of football in Bulgaria is incapable of dealing with a problem that has become entrenched in the institutions of the game in their country.

As a result, it is time for UEFA to act, and that does not mean the issuing of paltry fines or the imposition of another partial stadium ban for Bulgaria’s remaining home match against the Czech Republic. Those moves have been tried, and have failed to change behaviour.

Instead, UEFA should take the far more meaningful step of expelling Bulgaria from Euro 2020 qualifying and also banning them from the next staging of the Nations League, which is due to begin with a group stage next autumn.

By throwing Bulgaria out of what would effectively be two competitions, UEFA would be living up to their pledge of “zero tolerance” to racism. They would deliver a powerful deterrent to other groups of supporters with racist leanings and other federations who might be reluctant to tackle racist problems within their national game.

They would also provide the Bulgarian FA with a window in which they could introduce policies to tackle racism and work with the police to punish those involved in Monday’s abuse.

At the moment, the Bulgarian priority seems to be to avoid too much criticism and downplay the significance of what went on. UEFA need to ensure they are not allowed to get away with such obfuscation.