Top Bulgarian club Levski Sofia fined over Nazi banners

Agencies, SOFIA

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 - Page 19

Top Bulgarian soccer club Levski Sofia have been fined 37,500 leva (US$24,900) after fans displayed banners with swastikas and praise of Adolf Hitler during a recent game, the country’s soccer federation said yesterday.

“The Bulgarian football union’s disciplinary committee has imposed a fine of 37,500 leva on Levski for swastikas held up by its fans,” the union said in a statement on its Web site.

It also called on the club to slap a two-year stadium ban on the authors of the incidents.

During a league game against Litex Lovech on Saturday, fans had held up a banner wishing Hitler a happy birthday — born on that day in 1889 — and another with a swastika.

Levski, who won the game 2-1, were also fined 5,000 leva after fans threw missiles and firecrackers.

“Levski and the national fan club distances itself from the actions of a small group of fans that raised banners during the match against Litex Lovech,” the club said in a statement.

“We categorically declare that we’ll not allow the football club and everyone who loves Levski to suffer in the future because of a handful of people,” the club said.

It is not the first time the club, currently second in the league table, have been sanctioned for racism and violence. In September, European soccer’s governing body UEFA fined them 30,000 euros (US$39,000) after their fans shouted racist abuse at Bosnian opponents Sarajevo during a Europa League qualifying match in July last year.

The club surprisingly escaped any sanction from the country’s soccer federation when their Guinea-Bissau striker Bazile de Carvalho was racially abused by both fans and stewards in August.