Amid controversy, Bulgarian Football Union chief Mihailov wins new term

Borislav Mihailov secured another term as president of the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) at the association’s congress held in Sofia on February 16, but his election stirred controversy after a rival candidate called the process “a rigged match.”

Mihailov received 463 out of 504 valid votes from the delegates, with Lyuboslav Penev getting 36 and Ivailo Drazhev only five.

Penev, the former manager of the national team, left proceedings before the vote after launching a scathing diatribe at Mihailov, saying that the outcome was predetermined when his and Drazhev’s supporters were kept out of the congress’ committees.

“I do not think that Bulgarian football should be governed this way. Since we have this opportunity, the choice should be a democratic one,” he said. “This is a farce. I am, to put it mildly, outraged. Lyubo Penev and his team do not participate in rigged matches.”

Although coming from the opposite sides of Bulgaria’s grand football divide – as a player, Mihailov was goalkeeper for Levski in the 1980s, winning three domestic titles and Bulgarian footballer of the year in 1986, while Penev was a striker for CSKA Sofia and won two titles and Bulgarian footballer of the year in 1988 (as well as the Spanish La Liga with Atletico Madrid in 1996) – the two were teammates in the national squad and later worked closely together as BFU president and head coach of the national team.

But Bulgarian teams have little to show in terms of success during Mihailov’s stewardship of BFU, with the national team failing to qualify for any international tournaments since he was first elected president of the BFU in 2005.

Bulgarian clubs have fared no better, with the one exception of Ludogorets Razgrad, which qualified for the Uefa Champions League twice in recent years and makes yearly appearances in the group stages of the Europa League, though it has done so mainly thanks to the major investment undertaken by its owners.

Despite calls over the years to replace Mihailov, none of his potential rivals have managed to secure enough support to unseat him, as seen also in the outcome of the vote at the latest BFU congress.

(Photo: Juan Carlos Arellano/



The Sofia Globe staff

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