The Premier League have disqualified the original winner of their 2019-20 Fantasy game, with reports stating his fantasy team was deleted for racist messages about Raheem Sterling sent in a private Facebook chat.
Bulgarian player Aleksandar Antonov, who has a YouTube channel on Fantasy football called TooGoodFPL, was announced as the winner following the final round of Premier League games on July 26, finishing 18 points clear of second-placed Joshua Bull.
Yet the Premier League confirmed that Antonov has ‘been removed from FPL due to a breach of our terms’, and the Bulgarian touched on the nature of why he was disqualified in a YouTube video on Tuesday afternoon – but did not go initially go into specifics.
Sportsmail contacted the Premier League for clarification on why the original winner was removed from the game, and the reported insult against Sterling, but they refused to comment and did not elaborate on Tuesday morning’s statement.
Aleksandar Antonov had been disqualified from Fantasy Premier League on Tuesday morning
It means cancer researcher Joshua Bull has won the popular game for the 2019-20 season
It is believed that Antonov was disqualified for racist statements made against Manchester City striker Raheem Sterling
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‘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),’ Antonov says in his YouTube statement.
‘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.’
After the video statement, Antonov also tweeted in response to users on Twitter, via his handle @TooGoodFPL: ‘Can I just say quickly…I am not racist. OK, that’s all I had to say, bye.
‘Not saying the reason is racism, but the person that reported me for whatever he did, has said the exact same type of stuff in front of me when watching football together. You are giving way too much credit to sore losers… He is only standing up for his hurt ego.
‘The behaviour was explained to the EPL in two pages and I respect their decision. As I said in the video, I would never say anything like that to a player with the intend to offend them, it’s a small chat with friends, in a different language and different culture.’
However, later that evening Antonov took to Twitter once again to reveal that his expulsion was due to comments about Sterling – although he stressed they were not meant to come across as racist.
‘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,’ he wrote.
‘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.
‘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 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.’
City forward Sterling, 26, was part of the England side which played Bulgaria in Sofia in October 2019, when play was stopped twice due to racist behaviour from home supporters including Nazi salutes and monkey chanting.
The game did finish, with England winning 6-0 and Sterling scoring twice in the Euro 2020 qualifier, but Bulgaria have since been ordered to play two matches behind closed doors as a punishment from UEFA, with one suspended for two years.
Earlier in the day, in response to a query on social media as to whether he had multiple teams and that was the reason he was disqualified, Antonov said: ‘This is an easy one – no, I did not try to cheat in a game I play for fun.
‘For more, tune in tonight, have a dayjob after all. Joshua Bull, congrats (sic) on the win. Not the way you wanted to win it, not the way I wanted to lose it.’
Meanwhile Bull, an Oxford University cancer researcher, could not hide his shock and excitement at being named as the official winner of Fantasy Premier League 2019-20, played by 7.6 million people.
New winner Joshua Bull reacted with shock after being announced as this season’s champion
‘Wow, so it looks like the longest FPL season is getting even longer…’ he began on his Twitter page on Tuesday morning.
‘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!’
Rather comically, Bull has also updated his Twitter bio to include: ‘#FPL OR 1? 2? Your guess is as good as mine?’
The updated standings also means World chess champion Magnus Carlsen finishes in the top-10 worldwide, 42 points behind new winner Bull.
The new standings means World chess champion Magnus Carlsen has finished in the top-10