Israeli soccer players forced to flee field after Bulgarian fans attack

Ashdod FC player hit on head by bottle during so-called friendly against CSKA Sofia

Israeli soccer players run off the field as Bulgarian fans attack them during a match in Sofia on August 2, 2015 (Screen capture via YouTube)
Israeli soccer players run off the field as Bulgarian fans attack them during a match in Sofia on August 2, 2015 (Screen capture via YouTube)

Angry Bulgarian fans attacked Israeli soccer players from the southern coastal town of Ashdod, forcing them to flee the field during an exhibition match Sunday in Sofia.

The ruckus began after players from Ashdod FC committed a third foul against Bulgarian team SFKA Sofia during a friendly in the capital.

The Ashdod players were forced to escape through the stands as dozens of Bulgarian fans ran onto the field and started chasing them.

According to Hebrew-language news site Mako, FC Ashdod coach Eyal Lahman was hit in the face with a broken bottle and several players sustained light injuries, although no one was hospitalized.

Bulgarian police stood in front of the exit to prevent fans from chasing after the Israeli players, according to Bulgarian news agency Novinite.

The incident occurred during the first minute of stoppage time at the end of the match. At the time of the incident, the Ashdod team was leading 1-0.

In a video of the incident, Bulgarian fans erupted into angry shouts as an Israeli player appeared to tackle a Bulgarian player. Enthusiastic clapping and chanting can be heard in the video after the Israelis are chased off the field.

Team manager Rafi Nidam told Israeli news site Walla that Sofia police had told him that they had intelligence suggesting that hooligans were planning to disrupt the game.

The police recommended moving the game from a training court to the SFKA Sofia stadium, as the police would be better able to protect the players there.

Nidam claimed that several hundred of the thousands of fans present at the game had been shouting anti-Semitic slogans, including “Palestine, Palestine,” at the team throughout the game.

“It’s simply a miracle that there aren’t serious injuries or, God forbid, deaths in Ashdod,” Mako quoted Nidam as saying.

CSKA Sofia’s fans, particularly those known as “Sector G,” are known to subscribe to nationalist beliefs and have a history of violent behavior toward players and fans of opposing teams.

The team is historically Bulgaria’s most successful team, but recently dropped out of the country’s premier league after going through financial difficulties.

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