Clashes break out in Sofia as Bulgarian fans protest against country’s football management

Bulgarian fans clashed with police in Sofia as they protested against the management of the country’s football union.

The protest began on Thursday evening before Bulgaria’s Euro 2024 qualifier with Hungary at the Vasil Levski National Stadium as several thousand football fans from across the country took to the streets surrounding the stadium to show their anger towards Bulgarian Football Union’s president Borislav Mihaylov and his aides.

The fans’ fury was fueled by the federation’s decision to play Thursday’s match behind closed doors, and longer-term unhappiness with the national team’s decline.

Minutes before the kick-off, fans began to throw various objects at police who responded with water cannons.

More than 20 fans were injured, some of them seriously. Around 40 people were detained.

The game ended 2-2 with Bulgaria remaining bottom of their European qualifying group and having not won any of their seven games.

The Bulgarian national team hasn’t qualified for a major tournament in nearly two decades. After the latest two losses to Albania and Lithuania in October, fans called for a nationwide protest, blaming the federation’s leaders for the poor results and calling for their resignations.

In previous weeks, fans had been shouting “Resign!” in the 18th minute of every league match, addressing Mihaylov, who have led the federation for 18 years.

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