Bulgaria to investigate one, press no charges against others detained in football racism row
Bulgaria’s prosecutor’s office said on October 17 that it would open a pre-trial investigation against one person, while declining to start proceedings against eight others detained after the racism-marred Bulgaria-England football match earlier this week.
After reviewing the evidence forwarded by police, the prosecutor to whom the case was assigned concluded that it was insufficient to open pre-trial investigations against the eight and formally declined to do so.
The statement did give additional details about the prosecutor’s decision, but said that the prosecutor ordered that police pursue administrative punishments, which can include bans on attending sporting events and fines.
One individual, identified as Ts. Gechev (18) was detained for a further 72 hours and would be investigated for “exceedingly cynical hooliganism”, under article 325, paragraph 2 of Bulgaria’s Penal Code, which carries a maximum jail sentence of up to five years.
Gechev will be investigated after allegedly giving Hitler salutes, making obscene gestures and indecent exposure. The prosecution statement said that he had a prior conviction, without specifying on what charges, and the new infraction was carried out while still on probation.
The October 14 Bulgaria-England Euro 2020 qualifying match was marred by a group of Bulgarian fans who chanted racist abuse against England players, in particular Tyrone Mings, and gave Hitler salutes. Play was suspended twice but the match was completed, with a 6-0 victory for England.
Bulgaria’s Darik Radio has reported that the Uefa disciplinary board has formally charged the Bulgarian Football Union with four violations during the match at Sofia’s Vassil Levski national stadium. The indictments include racist behaviour, throwing of objects and inappropriate behaviour during the national anthems.
Uefa also has charged England’s Football Association over disruption of the national anthem and failing to provide sufficient stewards in the visitors sector.