Nearly 60 police officers and football fans were injured Thursday evening in violent clashes on the sidelines of the Bulgaria-Hungary qualifying match for Euro 2024 in Sofia, organized behind closed doors, Bulgarian authorities announced on Friday.
As for the protesters, “24 injured people were examined, including seven hospitalized for head trauma, fractures and irritations linked to pepper gas,” Katia Sungarska, spokesperson for the emergency department of the city, told AFP. the capital. The police, for their part, reported 33 injured in their ranks, including “some seriously injured,” according to deputy head Stefan Ivanov.
Furthermore, 33 supporters including “ultras” were arrested, while the hunt for troublemakers continues, he said during a press conference, criticizing “unprecedented” incidents in this country. of the Balkans.
Placed under high security, the match ended in a draw (2-2), allowing the Magyars to qualify for Euro 2024. With only three points gleaned from seven matches, Bulgaria are last in group G .
SEE ALSO - Blues: Dembélé, Giroud, Mbappé shake the nets in training
Supporters from all over Bulgaria came to demand the resignation of the president of the Federation Borislav Mihaylov, who has been in charge for 18 years. Firecrackers, smoke bombs, beer bottles and even stones or traffic poles: participants in the rally threw all kinds of projectiles and set fire to a law enforcement vehicle.
The police, massively mobilized with more than 1,500 agents, used water cannons to disperse the crowd of some 4,000 people, according to official figures. The authorities had warned ahead of the match of “a high risk of disturbances to public order inside and outside the stadium”. Hence the decision to hold the match without an audience.
Anger among football fans continues to mount in Bulgaria over the poor results of the national team, which has failed to qualify for any major competition and has seen a succession of coaches over the past two decades. The last international tournament played by Bulgaria dates back to Euro 2004 in Portugal.
The controversial president of the Bulgarian Football Federation (BFU) Borislav Mihaylov, 60, resigned in 2019 before reversing his decision. This former goalkeeper was finally re-elected in 2021, despite a record marred by suspicions of match-fixing and marked by a scandal of racist insults during a match against England in 2019.