September 29, 2017 / 10:29 AM / a year ago

Bulgarian refs’chief warned by police over assault order

SOFIA (Reuters) - The head of the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) refereeing commission has been advised by police to take security measures after a criminal gang received an order to beat him up.

“It’s true, there’s no point denying this,” Petar Petrov told local media on Friday. “I was warned not to walk alone in the dark.”

A number of officials, including UEFA referees, have been attacked in Bulgaria in recent years during which the domestic championship has been marred by widespread accusations of corruption.

The BFU and referees in the Balkan country are facing widespread criticism from clubs, media and fans for favouring Ludogorets – a team, based in Razgrad, a town with a population of less than 35,000.

Ludogorets won their maiden promotion to the top flight in 2011 and have since won the title six times in a row after owner Kiril Domuschiev bank-rolled the amateur club.

Many hefty fines have been imposed on Ludogorets’ rivals after fans shouted abusive chants and displayed banners to mock the close relationship between the BFU and the Razgrad-based club.

The BFU’s recent threat to “enforce tolerance at the stadiums even with the help of police” has provoked league leaders CSKA Sofia to issue an ironic statement, saying they will publish a handbook with allowed phrases and words that fans can use to express their love for the football authorities.

Media reports said match-fixing and corruption have been rife in Bulgaria for years, but no one has been brought to trial and the European Commission has criticised the authorities for doing little to tackle the issue.

Reporting by Angel Krasimirov, editing by Ed Osmond

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