Concerns over treatment of Cameroonian player in Bulgaria05 April 2012

The FARE network has raised concerns about the case of CSKA Sofia winger Njongo Priso who was reportedly targeted for racial abuse on March 25th by opposing players and fans after earning a red card in the second half of CSKA Sofia’s 3-0 win at Lokomotiv Plovdiv.

Priso, a Cameroonian, was sent off following an altercation with Lokomotiv’s Brazilian midfielder Dakson after the latter had fouled the former Valletta player.

Video highlights showed the two players confronting each other before falling to the ground clutching their faces. The referee brandished the red card to dismiss both players but as they turned away Dakson appeared to say something to Priso and slapped him in the face. Priso reacted by hitting out at the Plovdiv player.

Police involvement
Reports to the FARE network have said that some fans shouted racial abuse, made monkey chants and hurled objects at Priso as he left the pitch. He responded by making an obscene gesture.

Priso was escorted to the tunnel by police officers, where footage shows the player being manhandled by the police. The police later interrogated the player, holding him for 24 hours and releasing him without charge.
Watch the footage on Livenews.org

The Bulgarian FA followed up by banning the player for 5 games.

Before his sending-off, Priso had set up a goal and scored one himself on 57 minutes. The 23-year-old has proved a hit since joining league leaders CSKA Sofia from AEK Larnaca in January.

‘Cause for concern’
Executive Director of the FARE network Piara Powar said, “The circumstances of the sending off of Njongo Priso give cause for concern. The series of events, the reaction of the crowd at Plovdiv, the way opposing players behaved, the police handling of the player and the sanctions applied by the Bulgarian FA suggest a lack of awareness of racism. The involvement of the police raises a concern over undue and heavy handed interference.

“We have written to the Bulgarian FA, who were themselves recently fined for the racist behaviour of fans of their national team, asking for clarification, and a future commitment to recognise the issues at stake and act accordingly.”