Hungary Suspends Referee in Bulgaria-Estonia 'Rigged' Friendly
The Hungarian football association has suspended the referee and his linesmen who officiated in Wednesday's international friendly between Bulgaria and Estonia.
A FIFA spokesman confirmed Saturday, as cited by DPA, that the match in the Turkish resort of Antalya, in which all four goals in a 2-2 draw were penalties, was being investigated.
Hungarian referee Kolos Lengyel and the two Hungarian assistant referees have been suspended, Laszlo Vagner, head of the referees' commission of the Hungarian football association, told the MTI news agency.
Vagner said the officials told him they had been invited to officiate at a youth tournament in Antalya. On arrival they were then asked to take over Bulgaria-Estonia and felt obliged to agree.
On Friday, FIFA and UEFA agreed to investigate the international friendly between Bulgaria and Estonia, which took place in the Turkish resort of Antalya on Wednesday amid allegations of a possible manipulation.
The Bulgarian and Estonian football federations approached the European and world governing bodies after the match ended 2-2 with all four goals coming from the penalty spot.
The game was organized by the Thailand-based agency "Footy Sport International", while Russian Sergey Protsenko acted as an intermediary despite not holding a license by a FIFA manager.
The same people organized the previous match between Latvia and Bolivia, in which all three goals were also scored from penalties. Latvia beat Bolivia 2-1 in a friendly in the Mediterranean resort of Antalya just before the Bulgaria-Estonia game.
Official reports from the BFU and the Estonian FA say the referee was Hungarian Krisztian Selmeczi.
However, Hungarian referees' chief Laszlo Wagner and Hungarian media have indicated the referee was Selmeczi's fellow countryman Kolos Lengyel.
"We don't know this referee and we can't say he acted intentionally when awarding the penalties," said BFU vice-president Atanas Furnadzhiev.
Estonia FA spokesman Mihkel Uiboleht told local media the football team will never work with this agency again. The Estonian side had received information of a possible manipulation even before the game, he claims.
Midfielder Ivelin Popov scored both penalties for the Bulgarian team in the 40th and 83rd minutes, as did Estonian captain Konstantin Vassiljev at the 20 and 80 minute marks. Both squads staged a poor performance throughout the game, which will only be remembered with its penalty shots.
The Bulgarian team's coach and renowned former German international Lothar Matthaeus, who had especially demanded that a European team be chosen for this friendly match to prepare his squad for its next official clashes, did not hide his disappointment with the players' performance.
"I do not want to watch any more matches like the one against Estonia," Matthaeus said. "It is very hard to motivate the players in such a gloomy atmosphere especially when they play before some 100 spectators."
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