Sofia slapped with stadium ban for pitch invasion

SOFIA - CSKA Sofia must play their next three matches at a neutral ground following a pitch invasion during their league match at Lokomotiv Mezdra at the weekend, the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) said on Monday.

The BFU's disciplinary commission also ruled that CSKA must pay a 15,000 levs ($10,416) fine for the riot in the northwestern town of Mezdra.

The punishment was imposed after more than 100 CSKA fans stormed the field soon after Ismail Isa put the home side in front midway through the second half, forcing referee Ivaylo Stoyanov to abandon the match.

NEWS: CSKA match abandoned due to crowd trouble

CSKA are second in the standings with 38 points from 18 matches, four points behind leaders Litex Lovech, who have played one game more.

Lokomotiv have been given a one-match home ban for poor organisation as they also have to pay a 2,000 levs fine.

There was no police presence inside the stadium because Lokomotiv refused to pay the security taxes while more then 150 CSKA fans were allowed to watch the game very close to the field.

The BFU will rule on Tuesday on the outcome of the game that was abandoned in the 65th minute with Lokomotiv leading 1-0.

CSKA president Dimitar Borisov, however, said the 31-times Bulgarian champions were victim of provocation.

"It was provocation made by spectators who are not CSKA fans," he told TV channel Kanal 3. "Our fans were in the sector for visiting supporters and they didn't make any troubles before some 'strangers' rushed on to the field."

"There're rumors of a pitch invasion even before the match and we'll inform the police and present video of the incidents."

The violence in Mezdra was the latest in a series of incidents to mar Bulgarian football in recent years.

Several clubs, including CSKA, were handed stadium bans in recent seasons following crowd violence.

Earlier on Monday, BFU's vice president Yordan Lechkov said he did not see much point in continuing the domestic league season.

"Let's suspend the championship until we get back to normal," he said. "The stadiums should be set in order and next year we'll start again, using the spring-autumn system."

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