I know it’s on your to-do list, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I also know you read the Sofia Echo, so you’ve seen this already:
Holding the presidency of a football club can be hazardous – even deadly – in Bulgaria. Dozens of examples over the past 19 years attest to this. The latest is that of Yordan Andreev, president of second division Marek football club from the small southern town of Doupnitsa.
Andreev was beaten by two unidentified men on October 27, possibly in relation to match-fixing allegations. This is standard operating procedure for Eastern European football, with club owners alternately being accused of crimes and shot at. The Sofia Echo listed some cases from Bulgaria:
Kostadin Hadjiivanov, owner, Belassitsa Football Club: Arrested on smuggling charges.
Ivan Slavkov, president, Spartak Varna: Charged with human trafficking and money laundering.
Angel Bonchev, president, Litex Lovech: Kidnapped along with his wife. (Both were found alive, she was unharmed but he was missing two fingers.)
There’s also Alexander Tassev, the third chairman of Lokomotiv Plovdiv to be murdered within two years. (He had been under investigation for vote-buying and fuel smuggling.) Three football club chairmen were murdered in Bulgaria in 2004 alone.
Football is a nasty business in the former Soviet bloc. The game is tainted by the hooligans, (often associated with paramilitaries,) and the mafia influence and violence. Referees have been suspended and coaches and clubs investigated. Serbian warlord Arkan once ran FK Obilic, and when he met a fitting end, his wife took over the club. Unfortunately, the football fits its societies, so it’s unlikely that these problems can be addressed simply by sports oversight mechanisms. Until the governments in the former Soviet bloc get a handle on organized crime, the football scene will continue to be tainted by violence.