Football Union President Resigns under PM's Pressure amid Racism Scandal
Sofia, October 15 (BTA) - The President of the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU), Borislav Mihaylov, Tuesday resigned under pressure from the Prime Minister amid a racism scandal following a Euro 2020 qualifier between Bulgaria and England in Sofia on Monday evening. This development comes on the backdrop of demands by the English Football Association (FA) that the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) investigate racist chanting by spectators during the Monday match.
"We can confirm that England players were subjected to abhorrent racist chanting while playing the Euro 2020 qualifier against Bulgaria. This is unacceptable at any level of the game and our immediate focus is supporting the players and staff involved. As we are sadly aware, this is not the first time our players have been subjected to this level of abuse and there is no place for this kind of behaviour in society, let alone in football. We will be asking UEFA to investigate it as a matter of urgency," the FA's statement reads.
The match, which Bulgaria lost 0:6, had to be halted twice in the first half because of racist chanting.
Shortly before England scored their third goal, the visitors' captain, Harry Kane, alerted the referee that one of his players had heard racist insults directed at him. The game was halted for two minutes, followed by a stadium announcement warning the Bulgarian fans to stop with the insults.
The match was stopped for a second time in the 43rd minute after the English complained once again. As a result, some of the spectators in the Stadium's B sector left and the referee, Ivan Bebek, gave six minutes of additional time. The Bulgarian commentator on National Television, Ivaylo Angelov, said that the spectators from sector B had left in order to avoid being accused of racism.
The game was watched by around 15,000 spectators, including 3,500 from England.
The day after the match, Prime Minister Borissov ordered his Sport Minister to sever ties with, and suspend financing to, the BFU until its president resigns. "After the latest incidents and given the overall condition of Bulgarian football, the Prime Minister has ordered that we suspend all relations with the Bulgarian Football Union as of today, including financial matters, until BFU President Borislav Mihaylov resigns," Youth and Sports Minister Krassen Kralev told journalists at the Council of Ministers building. "The State can no longer tolerate such behaviour," Kralev said, specifying that this demand is not against UEFA's rules concerning direct intervention in BFU's affairs.
"The manifestations of racism were the main reason behind my decision," Prime Minister Borissov told journalists later in the day, adding that the BFU will be probed for violations.
Borissov said that the Government does not intervene in the sports and technical matters, or in the BFU's work, adding however, that Bulgaria has made headline news as a racist country because of "a group of retards". The results are also categorical, despite the money being poured into stadiums, renovations and turfing. The Prime Minister was adamant that he does not want the Government, represented by the Sports Ministry, to be engaged in any way with the current BFU President.
After initial reports that Mihaylov does not intend to come down, the BFU said on its website later on Tuesday that he has resigned his BFU post and will present officially his resignation at a meeting of the BFU Executive Committee on Friday. BFU said that their President's position is a result of "tensions in recent days" and "a climate which is to the detriment of Bulgarian football and the Football Union".
BFU raided by lawenforcers
The Prime Minister's remarks that BFU "will be probed for violations" materialized the very same day as BFU offices in Sofia's Boyana neighbourhood were raided and searched by officers of the Directorate General for Organized Crime Control, the specialized prosecution office and the police.
The Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) said that the law-enforcers were seizing documents and that two persons were remanded in custody. BNR sources said that the raid was part of a probe against football referees.
No official information was available from the law-enforcement authorities. RY, LG, DS/MY, LN/