Sports Ministers Krasen Kralev was interviewed exclusively by NMC Executive Director Andrew Moger after he had opened a high-level meeting in Sofia of European experts in sport policy in Sofia. In November 2017, Kralev was elected as member of the Board of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), representing the European Union.
Moger: You opened today’s session dealing with sports, corruption and touches upon anti-doping and society’s attitude to sport. What is your personal vision for where you want sports to be in this country and worldwide in 10 years’ time?
Kralev: That’s a very interesting question because my personal agenda/dream for sports is to have clean sports without match fixing, without doping and to have much more youngsters in good practice their favourite sports. That is the biggest task in front of my country and biggest challenge for all European countries because we all have the same common problems; fight for clean sport (doping, match fixing) this is a significant part of our jobs as ministers and administration. Fight to popularize sports among youngsters is a very significant part because we have a problem with kids that are attracted much more to computers than to have a chance to practice sport. What we do is best for the infrastructure, accessibility, help clubs to make structure more comfortable for kids, increase access for youngsters to sports venues. I think less than 30% of youngsters from 7 -25 years are practicing sports, this is not a good number and one my biggest tasks to change the tendency to the positive.
Moger: You mentioned the distractions for the youth and we see it all the time as parents and within our families. Do you think in some way youth would be put off from participating because some sports might not be clean?
Kralev: It can be a reason, the kids want to attract the parents and for inviting the kids to practice sport it will be very difficult to be successful when there are a lot of comments, rumors and facts that sports is not clean. So it is not only for the health of the kids it is also the way how they feel, they rely very much on honesty and fair play in sports. Otherwise it will be a big problem for us to convince them to practice, particularly any kind of sports that has been accused of being not fair or has problems with drugs and match fixing.
Moger: The news media sector has a role, sometimes reports are very helpful to public policy makers like you, and sometimes they are excessive in criticism. Do you think news media has a role in society to help sports?
Kralev: Of course, all media are very helpful for that. I rely very much when trying to educate parents that sports is very helpful for their kids to grow and develop strong personality and healthy youngsters we need the support of media to make sports popular and show all advantages that the sport will give to the kids and also in the fight against doping and match fixing we rely very much on their support otherwise we cannot do the job.
Moger: That suggests you are aware of the realities of news media, sometimes they are critical sometimes supportive. You have personally taken a very quick and decisive move following the recent incident (England-Bulgaria game), was it important to you to make a quick position?
Kralev: We made our position immediately because I know that Bulgarians are not racists. But there are some people who use this game and make a problem for all of us to be ashamed of their behavior. We do not accept that behavior and will not be tolerant to any kind of such activities. All 27 people proved acting wrong are under the punishment of the law. There was investigation, 3 of them will be waiting for decision of the court. For the others there will be punishments for what they did. I am sure our people are very tolerant and this is not representing Bulgarian society. What we have to do to make also strong education to avoid incidents like that in the future.
Moger: What requirements have you put on the new football president to eradicate those incidents on the terraces?
Kralev: It is not just the job of the football president but of the whole country and the society. What we do, we talk with MP’s to force adoption of new law for the sports hooliganism. There should be some project in which we make public discussion involving all stakeholders such as football fans, football union and member of government and parliament to prepare such a law that will prevent our society from such incidents. This law should be adopted very soon, in the next couple of months we will need to finish that. To make an effective law, not only on paper but to be easily implemented and to give much more power to Ministry of Interior to solve such incidents. But it is not the main role of football union to have lot of educational and preventive work with the football fans and the clubs
Moger: So you believe it to be a holistic, broad requirement, not just in sport but also in other ministries
Kralev: Yes sports ministry and ministry of interior have to deal with football hooligans. So we have a big role.
Moger: Do you believe sanctions from UEFA were proportionate?
Kralev: I think they were according to regulations of UEFA not more not less
Moger: Taking away from that particular incident, do you think those sanctions should be increased where hooliganism appears in any country or you do not have a view?
Kralev: I do not have a view on the incidents in other countries so I cannot be very accurate on my recommendations but in our country we will do what is necessary to stop these incidents.
Kralev Profile: Born in Varna, Kralev earned a degree from the Medical University in the city, before moving into global marketing, management of political campaigns and public communications.
In his youth, he was a long-distance runner. In 1986, Kralev was the holder of the Bulgarian youth national record for 20,000 m.
He has also been involved in various professional capacities with the Cherno More football club, serving as its chairman on two occasions (1998–2001, 2003–2007). Since 2010, Kralev has been the head of the indoor football commission of the Bulgarian Football Union.
Kralev is among the founding members of the “New Age” political party and was its deputy leader until 2012. He owns the “Alternative Media Group” EOOD and “Web Media Group” AD Internet companies.
In January 2017, Kralev presented his first solo painting exhibition. The profit has been donated to the “Bulgarian Sports” Foundation.
To read more about Minister Kralev and his priorities for sport policy in Bulgaria click here.