Soccer-Top Bulgarian referee banned for poor performance

SOFIA, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Svetoslav Todorov, one of Bulgaria's leading referees, has been banned for an unspecified period after his performance during Cherno More Varna's 2-1 win over CSKA Sofia in the domestic league on Sunday. Todorov's ban, imposed by the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) on Monday, came after furious protests from CSKA, who asked the soccer authorities to take action against the referee who they said had influenced the outcome of the game. "My conscience is clean," Todorov, one of Bulgaria's UEFA referees, was quoted as saying by local media. "I awarded what I saw." The match was full of controversial decisions with Cherno More winger Simeon Raykov levelling the scores in the 33rd minute with a well-taken free kick, awarded by Todorov for what looked an obvious dive by home team captain Georgi Iliev. "We equalised from a free kick, awarded for a non-existent foul," Iliev told reporters after the match. "It wasn't a foul." Among the other contentious issues during the match was a dubious penalty, awarded after minimal contact between CSKA captain Todor Yanchev and Raykov, with Spanish striker Bacari giving the hosts a 2-1 lead from the resulting spot kick. CSKA, who are third in the standings three points ahead of seventh-placed Cherno More, also had a 'goal' disallowed in the second half with no hint of offside or foul play while their penalty appeal for what looked like handball was waved away. CSKA coach Stoycho Mladenov, no stranger to disputes, was sent to the stands a few minutes from time for protesting to Todorov. Mladenov became increasingly frustrated when the referee failed to punish a Cherno More defender for hitting former Stoke City striker Mamady Sidibe, who joined the 31-times Bulgarian champions earlier this year. The BFU's refereeing commission also banned one of Todorov's linesmen, Nikolay Hristov, for five matches, the governing body said in a statement on its website ( Suspensions of referees are not uncommon in Bulgaria with dozens of officials receiving bans in recent seasons. (Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Ken Ferris)