The head of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) accused British Prime Minister Boris Johnson of contributing to a culture of racism after Johnson in October leveled criticism at UEFA. Johnson’s office had previously called on UEFA to take further action in addressing the issue after Bulgarian spectators directed racist chants and Nazi salutes at black players from England.

In an interview published Tuesday in the Daily Mirror, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin seemed to dismiss the sincerity of Johnson's call for harsher punishment of racism because of some of Johnson's past comments.

“When a politician that calls women with burqas post boxes or mailboxes then says publicly that he condemns you UEFA - Do you reply to that? Do you believe it's honest? Come on,” Ceferin told the Daily Mirror.

Ceferin was referring to a column Johnson wrote in August 2018 for the Daily Telegraph in which he decried the practice of Muslim women wearing burqas, saying that they looked like “letterboxes.”

“When you see high politicians, Prime Ministers – when you see presidents of Republics who are racists, who were sexist, you see that something is wrong,” Ceferin elaborated. “Because if you see an idiot from the streets shouting you say: 'Okay, put him in prison and that's it.' But when politicians start speaking they are not punished. And we have that in Europe a lot more and more.”

In response to Ceferin's comments, Johnson responded, "I defend my right to speak out."

Ceferin has pledged that UEFA will take steps towards diversifying its disciplinary committee and holding the governing body more accountable for incidents such as these. Fans and players have voiced criticism of the organization for not taking strong enough action against these kinds of abuses. Black players have also recently taken to walking off games in protest.