THAT was not what I expected. For the first time ever, I found myself supporting England and agreeing with Boris Johnson . I doubt that those planets will ever align again, but I repeat: I was supporting England and I agreed with Boris Johnson.

The racist treatment meted out to England’s Black players in their international match against Bulgaria was both predictable and unacceptable.

There is neither defence nor mitigation in what was a disgusting display: fascist salutes, monkey chants and despicable bigotry in the stands has brought Bulgaria’s ailing international football culture into global condemnation.

Taking a break from his Brexit chicanery, Boris Johnson responded to the events in Sofia by saying: “The vile racism we saw and heard last night has no place in football or anywhere else. I fully support Gareth Southgate and the team for rising above it. We need to see strong, swift action from Uefa.”

I agree entirely, although I had never imagined Johnson as a football fan, unless he once played in the Worcestershire amateur league for the village of Bell End.

Marcus Rashford, Tyrone Mings and Raheem Sterling were all the subject of grotesque barracking and abuse they should not have to tolerate, and condemnation has come from all quarters.

At least six members of a Sofia ultras gang have already been arrested and Borislav Mihaylov, the president of the Bulgarian Football Union, has been forced to resign. According to those close to the politics of Bulgarian public life, the departure of Mihaylov may be connected to other matters, not least divisive local elections.

Some of the racists have been apprehended and it is up to the police and the Bulgarian football authorities to deal with them, but we should not ignore the layers of hypocrisy that have surrounded this story.

One obvious contradiction is the way the English press have recently treated one of the victims of racism, Raheem Sterling. He was castigated for having an assault rifle tattooed on his leg as an anti-gun gesture in support of his father, who was killed in a shooting in Jamaica. With gun crime rising in London, the media came down on him like a ton of bricks. In one exchange with the populist mouthpiece Piers Morgan it was pointed out that Morgan supports Arsenal, who are nicknamed “the gunners” and who have a cannon crest on their jerseys.

Although last week most papers rallied around Sterling, his lifestyle has regularly been castigated in newspapers that seem to resent young Black men earning substantial sums of money playing football. In December of last year Sterling retaliated, accusing the media of fuelling racism in their portrayals of the spending power of two young Black players at Manchester City who had bought houses for their mothers, arguing that the same focus was not placed on their white team-mates.

Mainstream news bulletins gave high-profile coverage to the racism in Bulgaria but they have been much less diligent about pointing to racism within England’s ranks. Only a couple of days earlier, in Prague, England fans rioted and 14 people were arrested. It is now such a common feature of England abroad that it passes for normal.

The Bulgarian ultras now in police custody have their corollary in England too. For years now, English football has allowed right-wing groups such as Tommy Robinson’s English Defence League, Britain First and the Football Lads Alliance to infiltrate their travelling support, and there is now compelling evidence that England take trouble with them wherever they go.

The ideology that dominates England abroad is a nasty white supremacy that is anti-Muslim, anti-Europe and anti-Scottish.

Racism has been a problem in Bulgarian football for decades and critics say that the football authorities have been slow to act, turning a blind eye or held back by their own internal agendas. That latter point should scare the Scottish Football Association, a deeply unpopular organisation with a long history of bureaucracy and indecision.

Where are we on tackling racism in the game? And how does all of this impact on Scotland? One obvious point is that Scotland can be a self-deceiving nation. We often imagine that we inhabit a society that is warm and inclusive; deep down that is a delusion and we all know it.

Scotland needs to stop believing that our Hogmanay spirit translates into tolerance of a diverse society. It is not so long ago that two Hearts fans were arrested for screaming racial abuse at Christian Mbulu of Motherwell, provoking Mbulu’s manager, Stephen Robinson, to describe the abuse as “dark ages and dinosaur stuff”.

Although most of our clubs commit to supporting the anti-racist charity Show Racism The Red Card, we need to move beyond symbolism.

My own team, St Johnstone, like many others, parades the giant red cards annually, but racism is a pernicious problem that can fester despite worthwhile campaigns, good intentions and worthy symbolism.

The SFA is currently undertaking a review of child abuse within football but it did so only at a point when the issue was given visibility by the media. It now needs to review racism with the same vigour and before new incidents emerge. At the very least it should commission an audit of racism at the grassroots of Scottish football, starting with those Black players that have been capped recently.

Ifeoma Dieke of the Scottish women’s team has 132 caps and has lived in Cumbernauld since the age of three. Dapo Mebude of Rangers has represented Scotland throughout the age groups and was a standout player in the U19 team’s historic victory over Germany last week. Karamoko Dembele made his debut for Celtic’s U20 team at the age of 13 and is seen as one of Scotland’s top young prospects.

These three players and many more besides have grown up in Scotland and played football here since childhood. What is their experience of racism in the street, at school, in dressing-rooms and as they travel abroad to represent Scotland? We simply don’t know because they have never been asked.

How about a survey of 100 Black players at every level of football, from the amateurs to semi-professionals and up to the national teams? There is much we can learn from their collective experiences. One obvious unanswered question is why young people from the Scots-Asian community who play football at school and in local leagues struggle to make an impact at the high-end of the game. What barriers, subtle or blatant, have been put in their way?

Beyond that, there is much more we can do. Uefa’s No To Racism policy has had an impact and many clubs, including Celtic’s Europa Cup rivals Lazio, have been sanctioned and forced to close sections of their ground. We need to learn from this. It is only very recently that Rangers had ground sanctions of a much lower order imposed on them. They were instructed to close a section of Ibrox in a home match against Legia Warsaw after a Uefa ruling that some of their fans were guilty of “racist behaviour” – specifically “sectarian chants”.

What was significant about that sanction is that it happened against St Joseph’s of Gibraltar, and yet no Scottish newspaper and none of the governing bodies mentioned any of this on the night and none reacted until Uefa delivered its judgment. Such myopia is no longer defensible.

The silence of our national bodies leads many people to question whether Scottish football is so inured to sectarianism, and in this case to anti-Irish racism, that it simply passes as normal.

Scotland has much to learn from events in Bulgaria. We need to bring our own house into order and stop being blase about racism in our midst. Sitting back and thinking racism is someone else’s problem is the problem.