Bulgarian boys with Nazi symbols at football match – father claims ‘stranger’ did it

Petar Atanassov, the father of one of the children whose torsoes were painted with Nazi and other offensive symbols at a Bulgarian Cup football match, has told media and police that the symbols were daubed by a stranger and he had no knowledge of the matter.

Photographs of the two boys, taken on May 9 at the match between Levski Sofia and Slavia PFC, played at Vassil Levski national stadium in Bulgaria’s capital city, caused widespread condemnation. One appeared to be giving a Hitler salute.

“I did not know what was on the body of my son. The inappropriate signs and inscription were painted on by a stranger at the stadium,” Atanassov told Nova Televizia on May 15.

He said that he had seen the drawings on his child only when the boy took off his T-shirt at the field.

“My child is in first grade and absolutely does not know what those things mean. It’s the first time he’s been painted like that. It’s just a mistake,” he said.

He said that he did not know the other child involved, nor his parents.

Atanassov was questioned by police for three hours on May 15. The State Agency for Child Protection also has been investigating.

At the police station, Atanassov refused to answer questions from another Bulgarian television station, bTV. The station cited sources as saying that police had not been persuaded by his answers.

Bulgaria’s Penal Code criminalises the preaching of a fascist or other anti-democratic ideology or the forcible overthrow of the state. In the event of a guilty verdict, the punishment is imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of up to 5000 leva (about 2500 euro).

The State Agency for Child Protection is empowered by law to penalise failure to exercise parental control. In turn, the Levski Football Club could face a penalty of up to 30 000 leva.



The Sofia Globe staff

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