Irish Treatment of Bulgaria Football Fans Criticized
From the Irish Independent (independent.ie)
Letter By Angelina Bojkova
I write to register my disappointment at what appears to be the gradual loss of something that makes Ireland so unique compared to others in Europe, and particularly Britain.
As one of the contingent of Bulgarian supporters who made our way to Croke Park for the international soccer match on Saturday, I was astonished to find we were herded into a corner of the ground, surrounded by a large body of Irish police throughout.
After the game, we were not allowed leave the stadium for over 20 minutes, until presumably all the Irish fans had left.
The reason for this ridiculous security operation is beyond me.
In the days before the match, myself and my compatriots wore our Bulgarian colours with pride -- and experienced nothing but a warm welcome in the pubs and on the streets of Dublin.
Everyone wished us well, saying "may the best team win". A handful of seemingly wealthier people asked how we had the money to travel to Dublin, which was rather insulting, but the vast majority of people we met were wonderful.
I have heard how Irish fans at big hurling and Gaelic football matches sit side by side in games of great passion without any trouble. To my knowledge, you have almost no football hooliganism in Ireland.
Imagine my shock and disappointment arriving at Croke Park to be treated as potential hooligans.
Where was the risk of Bulgarian and Irish fans fighting each other? Ireland's independence and culture and achievements within the European Union serve as a model of encouragement for Bulgaria.
Where was the camaraderie and wonderful hospitality we had experienced before and after the match in the hearts of those who decided this security operation was necessary?
It was as if we were in England, and that the Irish police, or Croke Park or the soccer authorities had ditched a part of Irish culture and replaced it by mimicking what goes on across the water in Britain.
We Bulgarians who were there love Ireland and didn't allow this idiocy and a 20-minute post-match lock-in spoil what otherwise was a great party.
BALLINTEER, DUBLIN 15
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It would seem that this treatment of away supporters is standard in europe.
On resent away trips with Ireland in Paris, London, Prague and Bratislava the same segregation and 20 minute delay at the end of the game was experienced indeed in Prague and Bratislva we were 'minded' by the riot squad and in all cases great,trouble free,
times were had in the citys bars and clubs.
I and 12 others will be in Sofia on June 6 for the return game and looking forward to a great time in Sofia but no doubt we will be kept apart from the home supporters and held back for 20 minutes after the game and thats just the way it is.
Can anyone tell us where the best places to visit are and good restaurents and bars.
Looking foreward to a great trouble free game.
I know plenty of IRISH,who are living in basements in LONDON,working in the
construction industry and NOT having any money to travel outside London.
Once a year they travel to Galeway to visit their family.
I also felt insulted in Los Angeles,when someone told me,that probaly a WHOLE
town in Bulgaria collected money to buy me a lap-top.
WHAT YOU COULD SAY? THERE IS STUPIDITY EVERYWHERE IN THIS WORLD!
I can only congratulate the Irish police for the well done job and say I dont understand why a Bulgarian would write a whole letter complaining about being provided a proper security and complaining just to complain, looking for insults where there are none.
"A handful of seemingly wealthier people asked how we had the money to travel to Dublin, which was rather insulting"
How is this insulting when both the Irish and the Bulgarians know that the average official monthly salary in Bulgaria is about 300 euros?
"We Bulgarians who were there love Ireland and didn't allow this idiocy and a 20-minute post-match lock-in spoil what otherwise was a great party."
If there is any idiocy in this story, it is certainly in the head of the author of the letter.