BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Fans of FCSB, formerly known as Steaua Bucharest, protested the ownership of the club by Gigi Becali by throwing fake 500-euro banknotes onto the pitch during their Europa League qualifier on Thursday against Czech side Mlada Boleslav.
Supporters of the 1986 European Cup winners shouted abusive chants at Becali and covered part of the field at the Marin Anastasovici Stadium with hundreds of banknotes with the owner’s face printed on them during their goalless first leg draw.
Flamboyant Becali, a former shepherd, who made a fortune in real estate after the fall of communism in 1989 and served as a member of the European Parliament, has repeatedly said he is not interested in performance of the team.
Last week, Becali sacked manager Bogdan Andone after only two months in charge following a humiliating 3-2 home defeat by Armenia’s Alashkert in the Europa League second qualifying round. The club still progressed 5-3 on aggregate.
Becali, known for unapologetically choosing the FCSB starting line-up and interfering in team decisions, then annoyed fans further by halting negotiations with Portuguese coach Antonio Conceicao after less than half an hour of their meeting.
During the game against Mlada Boleslav, FCSB also displayed a banner reading: “We are fed up with your incompetence! Put on a coach and let him do his job!”
FCSB came into being in 2017 after a long-running legal battle between the Romanian Army, the Communist-era patron of the country’s most successful club, and Becali forced Steaua to be cut in two.
Becali owns FCSB, who are competing in the Romanian top flight, while the army created a new team called Steaua, who currently play in the fourth tier.
(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Christian Radnedge)