Bulgaria’s State Agency for Child Protection (SACP) has initiated an investigation into photographs showing two boys at the Bulgarian Cup football finals, shirtless, with one wearing a swastika while the other makes a Hitler salute, among other offensive symbols.
The photographs were taken on May 9 at the match between Levski Sofia and Slavia PFC, played at Vassil Levski national stadium.
The inscriptions on the bodies of the boys, who both appear to be younger than 10, read “Levski hooligan”, ACAB (“All Cops Are Bastards”), and SW 1999 (the most extremist faction among Levski’s “Sofia West” ultras).
“We see Nazi greetings, which are a worrying fact for us. Once we receive information about the location, the identity of the children and their address, we will refer them to the Social Assistance Directorate,” Stefka Ilieva, an inspector at the SACP, told local media.
If the children in the photo were unaccompanied, their parents could be fined from 300 to 500 leva (about 150 to 250 euro), Ilieva said.
She said that social workers were empowered to work directly with children and parents. If necessary, social workers could order an assessment of the parents’ parental capacity “and take action to improve it”.
The Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria “Shalom” strongly condemned the incident. It has referred the matter to the National Co-ordinator against Anti-Semitism, Deputy Minister Georg Georgiev.
“It is unacceptable that young children should be encouraged to exhibit such behaviour,” Shalom said.
This was another case that raised the issue of the need for upbringing in a spirit of tolerance and respect for difference as a counterpoint to aggression, from very early childhood both in school and in the family environment, the organisation said.