SOFIA (Reuters) – Pirin Blagoevgrad fans, fed up with what they called “repression” by Bulgarian soccer authorities, have asked to join neighbouring Balkan country Macedonia’s soccer league.
The Eagles were relegated from Bulgaria’s top division after a hotly disputed goal sent them to a 2-1 defeat at home to Vitosha Bistritsa on Monday.
Vitosha’s Grigor Dolapchiev was flagged offside by the assistant referee, but the referee waved play on and striker Dolapchiev took full advantage to score his side’s second goal.
“Dear leaders of Macedonian football, we the supporters of Pirin Blagoevgrad, urge you to accept Pirin in the Macedonian football championship as of next season,” Pirin fans said in a written request to the Macedonian Football Federation, adding that they would accept a place in any division of the league.
Pirin and the club’s fans have complained of unfair treatment by the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) and referees on several occasions during the season.
“In the last 20 years Pirin have been deliberately subjected to repression by the BFU,” the fans’ letter said.
Neither Pirin nor the BFU were immediately available for comment.
In happier times Pirin, based in Blagoevgrad – a town, located 20km from the border with Macedonia – reached the Bulgarian Cup final four times and competed in UEFA’s European club competitions.
In 2011 Pirin were expelled from the Bulgaria’s top flight over unpaid debts and six years earlier were kicked out because of unpaid taxes.
Pirin have a tradition of developing young players, such as former Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov, who spent seven years with the club, members of Bulgaria team that reached the 1994 World Cup semi-finals as well as several players in the current national team.
(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by David Goodman)