Bulgarian Cup final organiser fined $1,700 for COVID-19 violations

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Bulgarian Cup Final - CSKA Sofia v Lokomotiv Plovdiv - Vasil Levski National Stadium, Sofia, Bulgaria - July 1, 2020 General view of fans inside the stadium before the match, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria's professional football league (PFL) was fined only 3,000 levs ($1,723) following numerous social distancing rules violations during the country's domestic Cup final on Wednesday.

Thousands of CSKA Sofia and Lokomotiv Plovdiv fans broke rules for occupying every second row and every second seat in the stands, and refused to wear protective face masks at the Vasil Levski national stadium.

"The organiser, the PFL, will be fined 3,000 levs," Bulgaria's chief health inspector Angel Kunchev said on Thursday, adding that the security company responsible for maintaining order at the stadium would also be fined 3,000 levs.

The clubs escaped sanctions for the coronavirus rules violations.

CSKA were fined 4,300 levs by the Bulgarian Football Union for fans setting off flares and throwing smoke bombs as well as offensive chanting. Lokomotiv were handed a 1,500 levs fine for similar offences.

Bulgaria’s government allowed 12,000 spectators at the game despite multiple COVID-19 rules violations since the domestic league resumed on June 5 after an almost three-month stoppage due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bulgarians took to social media to accuse the government and health authorities of being too far too lenient in imposing only small fines.

The health ministry issued another warning that stadiums could be closed to spectators in case of further rules violations.

Lokomotiv said on Thursday that their fans set an example of how spectators should behave at a football stadium.

(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov, editing by Ed Osmond)

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