Ivaylo Petev should call Rafa Benitez for advice on how to react when your own team’s fans don’t want you to do the job you’ve been hired to do.
Petev, the newly hired as head coach of Bulgarian soccer team Levski Sofia, got that message on Tuesday, when angry Levski fans stormed his introductory press conference, took off his new Levski jersey and kicked him out of his own unveiling — all because they think he is a fan of city rivals CSKA Sofia, Reuters reports.
“Several dozen hostile fans burst in shortly after the start of Petev’s first news conference at the Georgi Asparuhov stadium, shouting: ‘You’re not welcome here. Get up, undress the shirt and go. Levski will not play under you as coach,'” the report says.
The assembled media watched (and recorded), as the men forced the Serbian tactician to remove his shirt and leave the room. The fans also confronted Levski CEO Nasko Sirakov, who resigned after the incident.
“This is the hardest day in my life,” Sirakov said. “But I wonder if there’s a place in the world where the fans choose the coach.”
Afterwards, Levski owner Todor Batkov told reporters that he wouldn’t let the mob drive Petev out of his job.
“It’a stain on our club, this is unprecedented … But we stand behind our decision — Ivaylo Petev is the new coach of Levski,” he said.
Some Chelsea fans openly opposed Benitez after he was hired to lead the Premier League club last season. In November 2012, fans protested Chelsea’s decision to fire popular manager Roberto di Matteo and replace him with Benitez, and they didn’t when he started working. The Spaniard had angered Chelsea fans with comments he made about the club when he was Liverpool’s manager, and many booed him throughout his tenure at Stamford Bridge. However, Benitez kept his focus and lead Chelsea to the UEFA Europa League title and a third-place finish in the Premier League.
Petev, 38, led unfancied Ludogorets to back-to-back Bulgarian A Football Group (first division) titles. If his magic has the same effect at Levski, those same fans might give him back his shirt.
See the Levski fans halt Petev’s press conference in the video below.
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