Football - Bulgaria plans to abandon games marred by racism

The Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) has warned its clubs that match delegates will now be able to abandon league games in the event of racist behaviour by fans.


"BFU's delegates will order the (stadium) speaker to warn the crowd," the governing body said in a statement ahead of the league's resumption on Saturday following a three-month break.

"Cases of racism and discrimination can lead to termination of the game and fines of 37,500 levs ($25,200)."

The BFU appoints a match delegate for every league game and he is the highest authority in attendance.

Bulgaria host Malta in their next 2014 World Cup qualifier in March at an empty stadium after supporters racially abused Denmark player Patrick Mtiliga in October's Group B match in Sofia.

World soccer's governing body FIFA described the incidents at the Vasil Levski national stadium as "offensive, denigratory and discriminatory".

FIFA warned a repetition could lead to harsher penalties including a possible points deduction, forfeiting of the match or even disqualification from the competition.

"The BFU would like to turn to all professional clubs and their supporters with a request to observe good manners and principles of fair play," the BFU said.

The BFU has tried to curb racism but there have been several ugly incidents in the country over the last few years.

The governing body was fined 40,000 euros ($52,600) by UEFA following racist abuse during their Euro 2012 qualifier against England in September 2011.

Last September Levski Sofia, one of the Balkan country's leading clubs, were fined 30,000 euros by UEFA for racist behaviour by fans during a Europa League second qualifying round match against Bosnia and Herzegovina's Sarajevo.

Last month the Italian government's watchdog for sports events (ONMS) said public security officials would be given the power to stop or interrupt soccer matches in the event of racist behaviour by fans.

Ahead of Euro 2012, UEFA president Michel Platini said referees were fully empowered to halt matches temporarily, or abandon them, if racist abuse was directed at players from the crowd.

($1 = 1.4860 Bulgarian levs)

($1 = 0.7598 euros)

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