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Bulgarian football federation raided after England racism storm

/ 12:51 AM October 16, 2019
Bulgaria England Euro 2020

Bulgarian fans react during the Euro 2020 Group A football qualification match between Bulgaria and England at the Vasil Levski National Stadium in Sofia on October 14, 2019. (Photo by NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV / AFP)

The Bulgarian Football Union was raided by special prosecutors and police on Tuesday just hours after its head resigned over racist chants that marred Bulgaria’s Euro 2020 qualifier defeat to England, an official said.

According to the public Bulgarian national radio, 30 specialised prosecutors, anti-organised crime officers and police entered the headquarters of the BFU on Sofia’s outskirts, conducting searches and confiscating documents.

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Special prosecution spokesman Bozhidar Dimitrov confirmed the raid to AFP but gave no further details, while radio reports said five officials were also reportedly taken in for questioning.

It was not immediately clear if the searches were related to the resignation earlier on Tuesday of BFU President Borislav Mihaylov, as neither the BFU nor police provided any details.

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Mihaylov, who had headed the BFU since 2005, caved in to pressure to resign earlier Tuesday after monkey noises and apparent Nazi salutes from some of the crowd forced Monday’s 6-0 defeat to England to be halted twice in the first half.

The abuse directed at England’s black players overshadowed the match and caused an international uproar.

Radio reports say however that the raid was conducted as part of a months-long probe into the work of the BFU’s refereeing committee, including referee assignments and suspicions of match-fixing.

Allegations about the rigging of domestic games have long been rife in the Bulgarian media. The practice was made punishable by law in 2011 but no major convictions have been made since.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, who demanded Mihaylov’s resignation, said earlier Tuesday that he had ordered a financial audit of the BFU.

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TAGS: Borislav Mihaylov, Bozhidar Dimitrov, Bulgaria Football Union, England, Euro 2020 qualifier, Football, racial abuse, racist chants, Soccer
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