March 8, 2018 / 4:55 PM / 3 months ago

Soccer: Bulgarian FA seeks prime minister's help as referee crisis deepens

SOFIA (Reuters) - The Bulgarian Football Union (BFU), unable to ease tension surrounding refereeing in the domestic championship, is asking the Balkan country’s prime minister and the sports minister for help in dealing with unruly club bosses.

On Wednesday the BFU’s refereeing commission chief Petar Petrov resigned after bowing to pressure from several clubs who have been seeking a reshuffle following what they believe to be biased officiating during league matches.

"It's very difficult to withstand such pressure," BFU president Borislav Mihaylov told Bulgarian web site www.blitz.bg on Thursday. "Petrov couldn't stand the tension around him and I accepted his resignation.

“It wasn’t easy, I’m not a man who likes to sack people and accept resignations. I couldn’t sleep the previous night...”

In September Petrov has been advised by police to take security measures after a criminal gang received an order to beat him up.

More than a dozen Bulgarian referees have been victims of violent attacks in recent years.

“I’ve talked to Prime Minister (Boyko Borissov) and Sports Minister (Krasen Kralev) and I will initiate a meeting with the club bosses,” Mihaylov said.

“They (club bosses) have to promise they will not try to influence (referees) any more. If they don’t make such a promise, any call to a referee will be given to the prosecutors.”

Officials have complained several times that the refereeing commission has failed to give them enough support and had urged them to work under stressful conditions.

A few years ago, a former commission chief was charged with approaching referees to influence the outcome of seven domestic top flight matches.

The BFU and referees in the ex-communist state have been criticised for favouring certain clubs, including Ludogorets, who have won the title for the past six seasons.

Reporting by Angel Krasimirov, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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