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Bulgaria: Bloody protest in Sofia
A remarkably rare unity among arch-rivals Levski and CSKA, Botev and Lokomotiv, and other smaller groups culminated in a massive ultras protest against the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU).
"18 years is enough" - The protest demands the resignation of the president of the football association, as well as his subordinates in other key positions. Countless accusations of corruption and amateurism towards the BFU have surfaced, with the result being an increasingly negligent attitude towards the clubs, sports facilities in the country, and the worst results and achievements of the national teams in history.
In the days leading up to the match, fearing a fan protest reminiscent of scenes from the match against England years ago, the BFU decided to play the Euro Qualifier against Hungary in an empty stadium.
Subsequently, they chose not to play in Sofia at all, attempting to move the game to Botev Plovdiv stadium. However, they faced disapproval from the club and the municipality. Consequently, they moved the match to Razgrad and Kardzhali, smaller towns with less population and a lower risk of protest. Nevertheless, the stadiums did not receive UEFA approval, leading to another move back to Sofia.
Over 1600 police and gendarmerie were on duty around the city, especially around the Vasil Levski National Stadium on match day, to maintain order. Initially, Levski, CSKA, and other groups protested in different zones around the stadium. However, they later united, escalating the protest quickly, with various objects being thrown towards the police. It's worth mentioning that a small Hungarian group was present in the protest, having connections with Levski Sofia and having already booked tickets for the game before the BFU closed the stadium.
Police used water cannons to disperse the riots slightly from the stadium zone, but the action continued around nearby streets. A police van was stormed and burned down. Ultimately, Bulgarian media reports over 10 injured police officers and over 15 injured fans, with over 50 arrests, and these numbers are likely to increase. Photos and videos below.
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