Soccer

Fantasy Premier League winner disqualified after alleged racism against Sterling

The champion of the 2019/20 edition of the Premier League's fantasy game has been stripped of his title after allegedly sending racist messages about Raheem Sterling in a Facebook chat.

Aleksandar Antonov, a Bulgarian player who runs a fantasy football-based YouTube channel called TooGoodFPL , was crowned winner of the game at the end of last month.

He beat 7.6million rivals to clinch top spot but the Premier League announced on Tuesday morning Antonov had been removed from the game due to "a breach of our terms".

Explaining the decision to remove him of his title, Antonov said messages he sent in a "private Facebook messenger chat" were handed to the Premier League.

While the fantasy manager did not disclose the content of the messages, a report from his native Bulgaria claimed he was disqualified for "racist statements made against the Manchester City striker Sterling."

Responding to the news on his YouTube channel, Antonov appeared to defend the content of the messages as "football banter".

He 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."

The Premier League accompanied the news of Antonov's disqualification by handing the title to Josh Bull, a cancer researcher at Oxford University.

Bull will now enjoy a seven-night holiday and VIP hospitality at two Premier League matches.

Reacting to the news on Twitter, he wrote: "Wow, so it looks like the longest FPL season is getting even longer…

"For everyone tweeting, I don't know what's going on either – I had an email from FPL this morning telling me that I've won(!), but I don't know why…

"And to address the obvious – clearly this isn't how I would have wanted to win, and I don't know any more than the rest of you about what's happened!"

Antonov took to Twitter to congratulate Bull before releasing his YouTube statement, writing: "Joshua Bull, congrats on the win. Not the way you wanted to win it, not the way I wanted to lose it."

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