Mihaylov re-elected BFU president, rivals leave vote in protest

SOFIA (Reuters) - Borislav Mihaylov was re-elected president of the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) on Friday after his two rivals left the congress before the vote took place in protest at alleged irregularities.

Mihaylov, who has led the BFU since 2005 and is the body’s longest serving president, got 92 percent of the votes cast, but faced criticism over a lack of transparency in the election.

His two rivals, former Bulgaria striker Lubo Penev and Ivaylo Drazhev, withdrew after they said they were forced to wait outside the hall hosting the congress for two hours after the start of the forum where the vote took place.

Their representatives were also not included on the election's commission, they said. As president of the BFU Mihaylov was allowed into the hall.

"I do not think that this is the way to organise elections," Penev told Reuters. "It's a farce to say the least."

The BFU denied any wrongdoing.

Mihaylov, whose tenure has been marred by allegations of corruption and cronyism in the BFU, had promised not to stand again after winning unopposed at the previous congress in 2014.

Media outlets, including television channel BiT, sports daily Tema Sport and website livesport.bg, as well as some local reporters were denied accreditations to attend the BFU congress.

The Bulgarian Association of Sports Journalists condemned the denial of accreditations as "extremely worrying" in a letter to Mihaylov.

"These are also clear signs of an attempt to limit freedom of speech - a fundamental value of civil society," the association said.

The BFU said that not all media received accreditations because the hall in the five-star hotel where the congress took place was too small to accommodate everyone who wanted to attend.

(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Toby Davis)

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