Vol. 5 Num 459 Fri. September 09, 2005  

Bulgarian Football Union sorry for Stoichkov outburst

The Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) has apologised to UEFA following "scandalous" remarks by national team coach Hristo Stoichkov against the the body's president Lennart Johansson.

Following Bulgaria's 3-0 loss to Sweden in a FIFA World Cup qualifier in Solna (Sweden) on September 3, Stoichkov accused Johansson -- who is a Swede -- of "being aware in advance of how the game would end".

Stoichkov, the leading scorer in the 1994 World Cup who went on to score 35 goals in 83 internationals for Bulgaria, was also furious over Belgian referee Frank De Bleeckere's decision to send off midfielder Blagoy Georgiev, collecting himself a red card for his complaints.

As a penalty for the latter incident football's world governing body, FIFA, has ordered Stoichkov to watch his team's home game against Iceland on Wednesday night from the spectators' lounge and not from the bench. Both teams have lost all hopes of qualifying for next year's World Cup.

"BFU's executive board sent a letter to UEFA President Lennart Johansson to express its apologies in connection with the scandalous remarks of Stoichkov," BFU press officer Zahari Nikolov told AFP.

Bulgarian newspaper Dnevnik said that Stoichkov has twice before accused Johansson of "using his position to arrange the national team of his country with favourable referees for its games against Bulgaria."

UEFA has filed a disciplinary complaint with FIFA following Stoichkov's remarks and will press for further sanctions to be imposed.