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Bulgaria's Longtime Soccer Chief Reelected Despite Record Marred By Controversies

Bulgarian Football Union President Borislav Mihaylov (file photo)
Bulgarian Football Union President Borislav Mihaylov (file photo)

SOFIA -- Bulgaria's soccer union president, Borislav Mihaylov, has been reelected for a fifth four-year term in office despite a controversial record at the helm of the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU).

A total of 241 delegates at the BFU congress voted on October 12 for the 58-year-old former goalkeeper, with his main challenger, former Bulgaria captain and Manchester United forward Dimitar Berbatov, attracting 230 votes.

Berbatov, Bulgaria's all-time leading scorer, said he would dispute the result in court, suggesting there had been violations.

Delegates from several clubs complained that they were not allowed to register for the vote.

The congress hall was sealed to the media, who did not have access to the speeches of the contenders.

Mihaylov's tenure has been marked with numerous allegations of match-fixing and bribing of referees, as well as a racist abuse scandal during a Euro 2020 qualifier against England in October 2019 that forced him to tender his resignation.

The game, which England won 6-0, was halted twice in the first half due to abuse from sections occupied by supporters of the Bulgarian team, including monkey chants and apparent Nazi salutes directed at England’s black players.

The incident was condemned by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and his British counterpart, Boris Johnson.

The BFU, however, kept postponing a congress to elect his successor, and Mihaylov withdrew his resignation.

Mihaylov was Bulgaria's national team captain during their surprising semifinal run at the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

But he was largely criticized about the fact that, since he took over at the helm of the BFU in 2005, Bulgaria's national team has failed to qualify for any major tournament.

With reporting by AFP
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