The fans in Bulgaria are livid. According to a recent report, it seems they are demanding some answers from their national organization and they want the EU Commissioner for Sports to launch an investigation into the national organization’s conduct.
Misuse of funds, failure to comply with public procurement laws and a lack of transparency are some of the allegations raised by Bulgarian sports fans, in a letter urging EU Member of Cabinet Zenon Severis to take action against the management of the Bulgarian Volleyball Federation (BFV).
The letter comes as a result of months of advocating work by a group of volleyball fans who claim to have found a number of dubious counts when looking into the management of BFV.
“We turn to you, in your capacity as Commissioner for Sports, in the hope that having being informed of some of the activities practiced by the BFV you will strongly advice the Bulgarian Ministry of Sports to take the necessary actions in accordance with the violations,” the letter reads.
The letter was sent to EU cabinet member and commissioner for sport Zenon Severis on 19 November 2012 and calls on Severis to urge the Bulgarian Ministry of Sports to act on the alleged mismanagement in the BFV described in the letter.
“The measures that could be taken are supervising the distribution of finances allocated by the Ministry, ceasing funding when financial irregularities are detected, and even revoking the license of the BFV,” suggests the letter.
The letter raises a series of allegations against the BFV, including a lack of transparency regarding the income and expenditure of the federation’s partly state financed funds. According to the letter, 91% of the federation’s expenditures in the fiscal year of 2011 is listed under ’other’ as is 81% of the federation’s expenditure. According to the signatories, further clarification of financial information has been denied by the BFV.
The letter also questions the democratic process behind the BFV presidential election that took place late last year, where current BFV president Dancho Lazarov was re-elected for his fourth term as the only candidate. The letter claims that several of the election procedures passed by the BFV General Assembly were neglected, including dismissal of presidential contesters. The letter further states that a number of clubs eligible to vote decided to stay away in protest, citing that the election took place in a non-democratic manner.
An investigation by the Public Financial Agency in Bulgaria conducted in August 2012 is also mentioned in the letter. The investigation discovered serious financial violations within the Bulgarian Volleyball Federation, who did not implement public procurement of more than 750.000 euro during 2011 and the first half of 2012.
No ministerial control
The fans have also raised their concern with the Bulgarian Ministry of sport and called for action against the volleyball federation. According to the letter, their claims were dismissed with referral to “sport’s autonomy”. The Bulgarian fans, however, argue that leaving these issues with sport is a breach of the EU regulation in the White Paper of Sport.
“The Ministry of Sports has the ability to end all the vicious practices by applying the laws of our country and revoking the license of the BFV. It also has the ability to propose and implement amendments to the Law of Sports to deal specifically with the mandate of the heads of sport federations,” the letter argues.
“Why is the Ministry not acting in order to stop these unscrupulous practices taking place in the BFV? Is it the White Paper on Sport which stands between the law and the Federation, or could corruption be spread a lot deeper into higher levels of power?” the fans ask Mr. Severis in the letter.
“The information contained in this document is only part of the problems in the BFV but we trust it is sufficient to clearly describe the state Bulgarian volleyball is currently in. We are determined to fight out of this predicament, for a better and more honest management of our beloved sport,” concludes the letter signed by Maria Koleva and Monika Miteva.
Mr. Severis recently answered the letter stating that he sees the specific issues raised regarding the BFV in the letter as of a “domestic nature” and as such not up to the EU Commission to interfere with.
[T]he role of the Commission in this area is to support the implementation of good governance in sport across the EU,” writes Mr. Severis and continues:
“Regarding the case in point, as you indicate in your letter, most of the issues raised are domestic in nature. However, if you consider that infringements to EU law have occurred in connection with the activities of the BFV, you may file a formal complaint.”