The twin brother of a Bulgarian arrested for aiming racist abuse at England players during a European Championship qualifying match last week has claimed it was he who attended the game, not his sibling, and had denied racism accusations.
Dimitar Gechev has told Bulgarian media that his brother Tzvetan, 18, was with his girlfriend at the time — a claim the girl and her father back up.
Tzvetan had been serving a suspended sentence after being previously convicted of assault. He could now be jailed for up to five years if found guilty in the new case.
Police have said Tzvetan was caught on tape making a Nazi salute and hurling other abuse at the English soccer team in the scandal.
But Dimitar said he was only waving at a friend at the time. He said he had petitioned police to free his brother but they rejected his claims.
Several people have been detained in the racism case, but Gechev is the only one to have been charged so far.
During last Monday’s match in Sofia, some Bulgarian fans made Nazi salutes and monkey noises at the English players.
England won the match 6-0. It was twice halted in an effort to stop the racist abuse.
A total of 78 fans have been detained during soccer matches in Sofia since the beginning of the year, police said. The majority of them have received one- or two-year bans from attending sports events in Bulgaria and abroad, fines and community work.
AP contributed to this report.