A “football fan” from Plovdiv has been sentenced by the Administrative Court in the city to a two-year ban from attending sports events in Bulgaria and abroad for giving Hitler salutes and making other offensive gestures during the October 2019 Bulgaria-England football match in Sofia, media in Plovdiv said.
The individual, not named in the reports, denied that it had been him who had made the gestures.
However, forensic examination of video records from the match showed a number of people, including the accused, giving Hitler salutes and showing the middle finger.
Bulgarian law defines sports hooliganism as any act in a sports facility before, during or after the sports event that includes swearing or other profane expressions, gestures, vulgar behaviour or expressions or chants that incite hatred on a racial, ethnic or religious basis.
The sentence of the Plovdiv Administrative Court is subject to appeal in the Supreme Administrative Court.
The October 14 2019 match, which Bulgaria lost to England six-nil, was a matter of international controversy because a group in the Bulgarian stands in the Vassil Levski national stadium threw Hitler salutes and chanted racist insults.
UEFA’s control, ethics and disciplinary body announced on October 29 that it was ordering the Bulgarian Football Union to play behind closed doors the next two matches to be played by its A representative team as host association in a UEFA competition, the second of which being suspended during a probationary period of two years as from October 29, for the racist behaviour of its supporters.
It ordered the Bulgarian Football Union to display, at the next two matches for which it would be the host association, a banner with the wording “NO TO RACISM”, with the UEFA logo on it.
The Bulgarian Football Union was fined 75 000 euro for the racist behaviour of its supporters and the throwing of objects.
The BFU was fined 10 000 euro for causing disturbance during a national anthem.
After the match, the Interior Ministry announced the taking into custody of a number of suspects, though it is not clear how many of these arrests have resulted in formal charges and court proceedings.