Heavy police presence set for Sofia derby

SOFIA - Bulgarian police have unveiled strict security measures ahead of Saturday's league game between champions Levski Sofia and traditional city rivals CSKA.

About 1,400 policemen will be on duty to prevent public order offences before, during and after the match being played at the Vasil Levski national stadium in downtown Sofia.

"We will not allow a repeat of what happened in Mezdra last weekend," riot police chief Mladen Marinov told a news conference on Thursday.

CSKA's match at Lokomotiv Mezdra on Sunday was abandoned in the 65th minute due to crowd trouble.

More than 100 CSKA fans invaded the pitch and then clashed with home fans, forcing the referee to end the game.

Matches between CSKA and Levski, the two most popular clubs in the Balkan country, are known as "the eternal derbies."

The games have been highly charged affairs in recent years with a 30-year-old man killed by a bomb after a game in 2000.

Police also said parts of the main streets in Sofia, the capital city, will be closed hours before the start of the game as an additional precautionary measure.

"We met with representatives of the two teams' fan clubs and let them know that everyone who violates the law will suffer the consequences," said Sofia police chief commissioner Anton Zlatanov.

There are expected to be a lot of empty seats at the stadium with Levski and CSKA outside the top two places in the standings for the first time in years.

The match, which Levski are hosting, is being staged at the national stadium after the teams reached agreement to use the ground for the derby matches this season.

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