The Premier League has disqualified the original winner from its 2019/20 fantasy game for allegedly sending racial messages about Raheem Sterling in a Facebook chat.
Aleksandar Antonov had finished first out of 7.6 million people with 2,575 points when England’s top-flight concluded two weeks ago.
However, on Tuesday, the Premier League announced Antonov had ‘been removed from FPL due to a breach of our terms’ as no further information was divulged.
Subsequently, Josh Bull, a researcher in mathematical oncology at Oxford University, was awarded top spot with 2,557 points.
The Fantasy Football top prize includes a seven-night holiday and VIP hospitality tickets to two Premier League matches.
It is something Antonov will miss out on for his alleged racial abuse against Sterling, according to a report from his homeland of Bulgaria.
In a YouTube statement, Antonov said: “Somehow, and in some way, things that I said in a private Facebook messenger chat with five of my friends found its way to the EPL [English Premier League].
“In response the EPL decided to exercise their right and remove me as the winner and to annul my points for the season.
“To clarify, what we write in our chats is football banter. And for sure it’s not something different generally from football banter chats…
“The reason for my disqualification is a moment of frustration with a player put into words, written between friends – it was never meant to offend any footballer on any basis.
“I was disqualified from the season because something was taken out of context to a large extent, from a small Bulgarian private chat by a person that certainly doesn’t wish me well in life and made me look like something I’m not to the EPL.”
Antonov then posted a lengthy Twitter thread to further explain his actions.
He said: “Hey, I know loads out there will say this is too little, too late. I didn’t give an explanation on this since I did not want to go in more specific reasons … but I guess I have to do it. Also a lot of people seemed to think I have to apologize [sic] so I will try to cover this too.
“The specific wording in question are some offensive words about an EPL player in combination with the word “neger4e”. Of course the problem here is the last word used even though I am more ashamed and sorry for the rest.
“I admitted this is a mean comment worthy of disqualification. However, it is hard to explain to English-speaking people why I never meant it to be a racist comment. The word “negyr” in Bulgarian does not have nearly the same connotation as the N-word in English.
“I have never used the N-word to anyone English-speaking or of black color [sic] in Bulgaria. I have never intend to cause any racial harm to anyone, EPL players included, and up to now I have never done so.
“It may sound stupid, but I actually really don’t condone racist behavior [sic]… and this is not just for black people but all other races, from which I have had many friends especially when living in the UK. I do have to apologize [sic] to anyone that has taken as an offense against them or their friends on racial basis. I understand why this is.
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“I can say also that what I wrote was never intended in this way, that I am sorry about talking in an inappropriate manner about EPL players (including to the player himself, but surely not players of non-white ethnicity only) and that I don’t condone aggressive racist behavior [sic].
“All this has taught me a harsh lesson and I hope it is a harsh lesson to others like me as we can see people don’t accept this kind of stuff even when the intend [sic] to do harm is not there and it is just a chat between friends thousands of kilometers [sic] away.
“For those that have been following me, you know I have never showed any discriminatory/racial behavior [sic], I try to help everyone and will continue to do so. Yes I could have pretended this is not me and may have avoided all this, but I deserve my punishment from EPL and from you.”