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Feb 25, 2013

Bulgaria introduces new anti-racism rules

The Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) has given match delegates the power to abandon league games in the event of racist behaviour by fans.

The organisation appoints a match delegate for every league game, who is the highest authority in attendance. A decision to terminate a game would lead to a fine for the clubs in question.

"BFU's delegates will order the [stadium] speaker to warn the crowd," the BFU said in a statement prior to the national league's resumption on Saturday following a three-month break.

"Cases of racism and discrimination can lead to termination of the game and fines of 37,500 levs.

"The BFU would like to turn to all professional clubs and their supporters with a request to observe good manners and principles of fair play."

The move is the latest attempt by the BFU to curb racism in recent years, although previous efforts have seen little success.

Bulgaria will host Malta in their next 2014 World Cup qualifier in March at an empty stadium after supporters racially abused Denmark player Patrick Mtiliga during October's Group B match in Sofia.

The abuse of Mtiliga led FIFA to describe the incident as "offensive, denigratory and discriminatory". World football's governing body also warned that a repeat could lead to harsher penalties, including a possible points deduction, forfeiting of the match or disqualification from the competition.

The BFU was fined by UEFA following racist abuse during Bulgaria's Euro 2012 qualifier against England in September 2011, while Levski Sofia, one of Bulgaria's leading clubs, were fined for racist behaviour by fans during a Europa League tie with Sarajevo.

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