Bulgarian club expelled from top division over match-fixing claims

SOFIA, (Reuters) – Vereya have been expelled from the top flight of Bulgarian soccer after repeated warnings from the sport’s European governing body UEFA over suspected match-fixing, the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) said yesterday.

The BFU said it made the move after receiving new alerts from UEFA’s integrity office in recent months, despite fining Vereya 5,000 levs ($2,858) over potential match manipulation in February.

Vereya owner Galin Mihaylov said the club would appeal the BFU ruling and hold a news conference tomorrow.

The Stara Zagora-based club, founded in 2001 and currently sitting bottom of the league, will play in the Balkan country’s second division next season, the BFU said. Vereya finished sixth in the top division last season.

“The BFU received signals from UEFA for unregulated financing of Vereya by Chinese citizens associated with international trade unions for manipulation of football matches in Europe and the world, as well as citizens of the former CIS (the Commonwealth of Independent States of 11 ex-Soviet states) investigated for manipulation of football matches,” BFU said.

The BFU said it would let Vereya’s previous results stand, but their remaining games will be recorded as 0-3 losses.

There have been media reports of widespread match-fixing and corruption in the Black Sea state for years, but nobody has been brought to trial, and the European Commission has criticised the authorities for doing little to fight the problem. ($1 = 1.7494 leva)

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