FIFA, UEFA to Probe Bulgaria, Estonia 'Rigged' FriendlySports | February 11, 2011, Friday // 12:53| views
Bulgarian Football Union president Borislav Mihaylov (C) is pictured here leaving for Antalya, for the suspicious firendly match against Estonia. Photo by BGNES
FIFA and UEFA have agreed to investigate the international friendly between Bulgaria and Estonia, which took place in the Turkish resort of Antalya on Wednesday amid allegations of a possible manipulation.
The Bulgarian and Estonian football federations approached the European and world governing bodies after the match ended 2-2 with all four goals coming from the penalty spot.
The game was organized by the Thailand-based agency "Footy Sport International", while Russian Sergey Protsenko acted as an intermediary despite not holding a license by a FIFA manager.
The same people organized the previous match between Latvia and Bolivia, in which all three goals were also scored from penalties. Latvia beat Bolivia 2-1 in a friendly in the Mediterranean resort of Antalya just before the Bulgaria-Estonia game.
Hungarian referee Krisztian Selmeczi was in charge of both matches.
"We don't know this referee and we can't say he acted intentionally when awarding the penalties," said BFU vice-president Atanas Furnadzhiev.
Estonia FA spokesman Mihkel Uiboleht told local media the football team will never work with this agency again. The Estonian side had received information of a possible manipulation even before the game, he claims.
Midfielder Ivelin Popov scored both penalties for the Bulgarian team in the 40th and 83rd minutes, as did Estonian captain Konstantin Vassiljev at the 20 and 80 minute marks. Both squads staged a poor performance throughout the game, which will only be remembered with its penalty shots.
The Bulgarian team's coach and renowned former German international Lothar Matthaeus, who had especially demanded that a European team be chosen for this friendly match to prepare his squad for its next official clashes, did not hide his disappointment with the players' performance.
"I do not want to watch any more matches like the one against Estonia," Matthaeus said. "It is very hard to motivate the players in such a gloomy atmosphere especially when they play before some 100 spectators."
Lothar Matthaeus expressed the hope that from now on the Bulgarian team will have the chance to face only big and powerful teams in its friendlies and offered his help in organizing this.
Bulgaria's next official game will be against Switzerland on March 26 2011 as a part of the UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.
The Balkan squad stands hardly any chances of qualifying for the tournament. In the qualifiers' Group G, Bulgaria is currently fourth among five teams, with one win from three games. The other teams in the group are Montenegro, England and Wales.
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