Bulgaria yet to bear consequences of shameful match against England


Bulgaria has been living in a kind of a nightmare for the third consecutive day after the events that took place at the Bulgaria-England football qualifier on Monday when Bulgaria lost 6:0. The racist acts of a group of football fans caused unprecedented reactions in Bulgaria and abroad. No one would have ever though that the Bulgarian government may cease relations with the Bulgarian Football Union and demand the resignation of its President Borislav Mihaylov. Later, Mihaylov handed in his resignation, but is it not sure whether the Executive Committee or the Congress of the Bulgarian Football Union would accept this resignation. Some of the football fans welcomed the reaction of the Bulgarian government, but some blame the cabinet for the scandal, because in their view, it had to prevent it. The British media strongly criticized the racist acts in Sofia and the Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Bulgaria Emma Hopkins welcomed the swift reaction of the Bulgarian cabinet. At a hearing at the British Parliament, the Deputy Minister for Sport, Media and Creative Industries Nigel Adams also made similar assessment on behalf of the British cabinet.

Bulgaria’s President Rumen Radev described the demand of the Borissov 3 cabinet for resignation of the President of the Bulgarian Football Union as unacceptable interference and called on the representatives of the Bulgarian government responsible for the security of the match to take responsibility as well. President Radev called for draconian measures against football hooliganism and warned that acts such as the one that took place at the National Stadium in the beginning of the week will continue, until some politicians cease using some football fans in protests and counter-protests.

Rumen Radev also said that the isolated racist acts at a football match must not be generalized, because the Bulgarian nation was the one that rescued its Jews during the Second World War. The football coach of the Bulgarian national team Krasimir Balakov also shared similar position. Balakov pointed out that racism is not a national phenomenon in Bulgaria and there are only separate racist acts. The Bulgarian football legend Hristo Stoichkov broke down in tears during his comments for a Mexican TV channel.

However, the case is not closed and Bulgaria is yet to bear the consequences of this shameful act. UEFA charged Bulgaria for fans’ racist behavior. The charges against Bulgaria will be a breach of “article 14 racism and other discriminatory conduct”. Bulgaria and England were also accused for disrupting the other national anthem. The FARE organization, which fights against discrimination in football, announced that it would continue to call on UEFA to kick Bulgaria out of Euro 2020, in order to give a good example in the fight against racism.

Bulgaria is also expected to give an example in the fight against racist acts and initiate broad public debates aimed at reaching a consensus on the disputes about the limits of tolerance for football fans, the responsibility of the Bulgarian authorities during sports events, the responsibilities of the sports organizations and the reciprocity in their relations with the government. Last, but not least, Bulgaria must guarantee uncompromising application of the regulatory and legal provisions in this field. Bulgaria adopted a law against football hooliganism. It was even amended last year, but the scandals at and after the football game versus England prove that football hooliganism not only exists, but it takes on new dimensions as well.

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

Photos: REUTERS и eurosport.co.uk

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