Hiss in the grass gives referee derby shivers

Coins, bottles, rotten fruit and other assorted missiles are all in a day's work for referees around the world, but Bulgarian fans came up with a football first when they showed their displeasure with the man in the middle by propelling a live snake in his direction.

Veselin Bogdanov was leaving the pitch after Saturday's Sofia derby between Levski Sofia and CSKA when the large and live serpent landed at his feet. It was promptly attended to by a member of the city's constabulary, who clubbed it with his baton. It was not clear which set of venomous supporters resorted to reptile attack, but as Levski lost 1-0 suspicions fell on their followers.

Hardly had the police dealt with the snake than they were called to the players' tunnel to sort out a punch-up between the teams who have a history of fierce rivalry. Eleven years ago a cup final ended in a brawl and several players, including Hristo Stoichkov, were banned for a year.

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