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Georgi Ivanov Elected President of Bulgarian Football Union

Georgi “Gonzo” Ivanov was elected president of the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) in the first round of voting during its 11th extraordinary congress on Friday. Ivanov was backed by 235 out of 469 votes, enough for him to be declared the successor of Borislav Mihaylov, who stepped down on November 27, 2023.  “I promise honesty and hard work. I will try to make football different,” Ivanov said after his election. He added that one of his goals is for Bulgaria’s national team to qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. 
Ivanov currently serves as technical director at BFU and is in charge of the national teams. The former central striker will now serve as BFU president until 2028.
He was one of the seven contenders for the post. Dimitar Berbatov came in second in the race with 181 votes, followed by Mihail Kasabov with 35 votes, Georgi Gradev with 6 votes, Petyo Kostadinov and Georgi Zahariev with 4 votes each, and Manol Ivanov with 1 vote.
Friday’s congress comes after Borislav Mihaylov resigned as BFU president following a wide-scale protest by football fans that took place on November 16, 2023. The resignation was accepted in a 303-12 vote. The delegates then voted to discharge of responsibility the Executive Committee.
During the forum, Mihaylov read a report on his team’s work, thanked the people, and called the last two years “football in a time of cholera” where the most important task was “to preserve football from the toxic environment that wanted to take it over”. The management presented the financial results for 2022 and 2023 and they showed a positive result for the BFU: revenues of BGN 19.812 million and expenses of BGN 16.864 million in 2022, and surplus of BGN 618,000 for 2023.
Following are highlights from statements by some of the candidates:
BFU Vice President Mikhail Kasabov outlined some things he considered important and argued that the first steps that need to be taken are to gradually take the league championship out of the BFU control and allow the Union to focus on youth and amateur football. “I can’t promise change with a magic wand, but there will be eight new members of the executive committee,” he said.
The sports law expert and former goalkeeper Georgi Gradev started with a quote from the classic Don Quixote and talked about freedom and its value. Then he promised that if he wins the vote for the President’s office, he will work for Bulgarian football without pay. Earlier in the day, he told reporters that information had reached him about Mihail Kasabov and Georgi Ivanov had agreed to share the presidential and vice-presidential positions, and that Gonzo had offered 5,000 BGN to clubs to support him in the vote.
The most high-profile candidate, Dimitar Berbatov, urged the delegates to “think carefully before voting because in their vote is the future” of football. He promised to be very active and stressed how he, Stiliyan Petrov and Martin Petrov – together on the field in their active years, and now friends and supporters, have not parted.