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Bosnian and Bulgarian leaders issue joint statement calling on all football fans to let Thursday's match in Sarajevo pass off in peace and expressing concern over signs of recent animosity.
The Bosnia Prime Minister, Vjekoslav Bevanda, and the Bulgarian Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, on July 25 said they were worried about possible violence at Thursday's football match between the Bosnian football team Sarajevo and Levski of Bulgaria.
The two premiers appealed to fans of both teams to act responsibly and in a spirit of sporting tolerance, emphasizing that sport is based on peaceful competition that goes beyond cultural, ethnic and religious differences.
“We are upset because of the animosity that has been created,” Bevanda and Borisov stated. “Both in the Republic of Bulgaria and in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the love of sport, specially football, is extremely strong,” they added.
“Sporting events should bring joy and satisfaction and should not be used for the interests of extremists.
"Bulgaria and BiH play a key role in understanding and cooperation in the region and are an example of great bilateral relations,” the statement said on Wednesday.
Animosity between Sarajevo and Levski football fans rose after last week's game in Sofia, where Bulgarians displayed offensive banners glorifying Serbian war criminals responsible for bloodshed in Bosnia during the 1992-95 war.
Bosnia's Sarajevo club is hosting Levski from Sofia after the two teams last week played in Sofia, where a few Sarajevans were arrested after clashing with police.
"Hellcome to Sarajevo," is the latest video published by Sarajevo club fans, which warned that both Sarajevo fans and fans of another club from Bosnia, Zeljeznicar, were waiting for Levski supporters on Thursday.
They said they felt provoked by Bulgarian fan posts related to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia and supposedly glorifying war criminals.
A representative of Levski said he hoped there would be no trouble in Sarajevo, although some Internet-based social networks and portals suggested that the Bulgarians still planned to display of shout offensive slogans about Bosnia.
Similar trouble prior to a game happened on Tuesday, when two Bosnian policemen and one Slovene fan were injured in a brawl in Sarajevo between Slovene and Bosnian football fans.
Around 30 Slovenes were involved in the incident, which involved hurling chairs from cafés, throwing ashtrays and bottles and punches.
Witnesses said the Slovenians shouted offensive slogans in support of Slobodan Milosevic, Serbia's former President and a man reviled among Bosniaks in Bosnia. They also allegedly shouted slogans referring to Srebrenica.
A fight in Sarajevo between 30 football fans of Slovenia's Viole Maribor team and supporters of their rivals, Zeljeznicar, left several people injured.
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