The head of the BFS, Borislav Mihailov, announced on Friday evening after the questioning in the anti-corruption commission that he will remain silent for a few more days on the issue of the resignation, despite the pressure exerted on him by fans, politicians and the prosecutor’s office.
“Next week I will say what I intend to do before the collective body (BFS),” he said after his three-hour questioning at the Anti-Corruption Commission.
“There is no investigation into the black lotto. I have very high morals. So don’t worry. I said everything (before the committee) that interests the public – funding, spending of funds,” Mihailov said.
He explained that he does not feel any guilt for the match with Hungary, which was played without an audience, and the ultras caused disturbances in the center of Sofia.
“I don’t feel any guilt because it’s a UEFA match. And UEFA decides where, when to play and whether it will be played with or without an audience,” said the head of the BFS.
However, the responsibility for the match is not entirely in the hands of UEFA because all the preliminary documentation and the proposal is made by the BFS.
The Prime Minister wants the intervention of FIFA
On Friday, Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov took an unprecedented step in Bulgarian sports, announcing that he had sent a letter to the UEFA headquarters with a request to hear their opinion on the pogroms surrounding the Bulgaria-Hungary match.
A little later, he also sent a letter to the world football headquarters, FIFA, with a request that it remove the president of the BFS, Borislav Mihailov, “in accordance with the rights and responsibilities specified in the FIFA statutes.”
Denkov calls on FIFA to discuss and propose possible solutions to the unprecedented situation, referring to Art. 8 (2) of the Statute: “The executive bodies of the member associations may, in exceptional circumstances, be removed from office by the Council, after consultation with the relevant confederation, and be replaced by a temporary management committee (normalization committee) for a certain period of time.”
In his letter, the prime minister also points out the accumulated criticism and dissatisfaction with the leadership of the BFS and the unprecedented unification of rival fan clubs against him. Also cited is the fact that more than 140 clubs (out of a total of 550) who voted against the current BFS management were subsequently expelled from the BFS
The government’s actions in this case are a double-edged sword. FIFA rules prohibit state and government interference in the work of football associations.
Article 17 of the FIFA regulations states that “Each FIFA member shall manage its football activities independently and without interference from third parties”. However, there is no further explanation of what exactly “third-party intervention” means
In October 2017, FIFA froze the membership of the Pakistan Football Association after the president of the organization resigned due to suspicions of corruption and was temporarily replaced by a head from the Pakistani court. The punishment was canceled after half a year, after the fired boss was reinstated.
At the end of 2015, FIFA imposed a similar penalty on Kuwait after it found that the government was interfering with the work of the local football union, although it did not specify what exactly this interference was. The punishment prevented the country’s national team from participating in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
Earlier on Friday, interim chief prosecutor Borislav Sarafov ordered the opening of a large-scale investigation of Borislav Mihailov and the BFS due to “numerous” media publications about crimes involving the use of funds in the federation and the black lottery.
“According to the order of acting Chief Prosecutor Borislav Sarafov, the Prosecutor’s Office is reporting itself in connection with numerous publications in the media containing information about committed violations and/or crimes of a different nature (spending of public resources, “black lottery”, etc.) by side of the leadership of the Bulgarian Football Union, including by the president of the federation Borislav Mihailov”, reads the announcement of the state prosecution.
After that, the head of the BFS went to the new anti-corruption commission, which has investigative powers, for questioning.
The work on the case has been assigned to the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office (SGP), which is yet to clarify facts and circumstances related to the activities of the BFS in recent years. Information will be requested from various state institutions – Ministry of Youth and Sports and NRA.
All this is happening against the background of the riots in Sofia, caused by football hooligans and the intervention of GERB leader Boyko Borisov in the conflict.
“To Borislav Mihailov – after so much blood, go!” Borisov wrote on Thursday evening.
All of this begins to repeat the events of October 2019, when Borisov literally scalped Mihailov with a spectacular GDBOP action in the BFS. The leader of GERB has excellent contacts with the football campaigners, having flirted with them for years along the projects for new stadiums
A familiar scenario
The situation with Mihailov and BFS developed in a very identical way on the morning of October 15, 2019. Then Borisov again hinted at “reports” of crimes committed by BFS officers.
Shortly after, teams of the GDBOP and the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office broke into the buildings of the FSB in Boyana quarter, which were looking for evidence of the black lottery and the buying of judges.
Immediately after that, Borislav Mihailov decided to resign. The official reason for the resignation was the Bulgaria-England match, which ended in a shameful 6:0 loss for the Bulgarian national team and was marked by racist acts by fans.
Borisov then pointed out that his complaints were not about the weak performance of the Bulgarian team, but because of the racist chants from the stands.
Nine months later, Borislav Mihailov showed himself to be the ultimate survivor, having suddenly withdrawn his resignation at a scheduled congress of the BFS, at which everyone expected Dimitar Berbatov to be elected.