The Bulgarian Cup (Bulgarian: Купа на България) is a Bulgarian annual football competition. It is the country's main cup competition and all officially registered Bulgarian football teams take part in it.
|Number of teams||Various|
|Qualifier for||UEFA Europa League|
|Domestic cup(s)||Bulgarian Supercup|
|Current champions||Lokomotiv Plovdiv |
|Most successful club(s)||Levski Sofia |
|Television broadcasters||Nova Broadcasting Group|
The tournament's format is single-elimination, with all matches being one-legged, except the semi-finals. The competition's winner gets the right to take part in the UEFA Europa League. If the winner has already secured a place through the Bulgarian A Professional Football Group, the team that has come fourth in the championship substitutes it.
The competition has been dominated by Sofia-based teams. The Sofia teams have won together a total number of 61 titles. The three most successful teams are Levski Sofia (25 cups), CSKA Sofia (20 cups) and Slavia Sofia (8 cups). The most recent winner of the Bulgarian Cup is Lokomotiv Plovdiv, who beat Botev Plovdiv 1–0 in the 2019 Bulgarian Cup Final.
The Bulgarian Cup tournament is divided in two phases - the Qualification phase and the Final phase.
In this phase are participating teams from the four groups of the amateur division V AFG (3rd level of the Bulgarian football league system) and teams from Bulgarian A Regional Football Group (A RFG) (4th level of the Bulgarian football league system).
In this phase are participating the teams that have won their matches in the Qualification phase, with the 20 teams from the two groups of B PFG (10 teams from West B PFG and 10 teams from East B PFG) and 16 teams from A PFG. The team from a lower league division is the home team. In matches between teams from same division the home team is determined by lot.
- Round 1 (Round of 32) - 32 teams participate (the teams that have won their matches in the Qualification phase, with the 20 teams from the two groups of B PFG (10 teams from West B PFG and 10 teams from East B PFG).
- Round 2 (Round of 32) - 32 teams participate (16 teams from Round 1 and 16 teams from A PFG).
- Round 3 (Round of 16) - 16 teams participate (16 teams from Round 2).
- Quarter-finals - 8 teams participate (8 teams from Round 3).
The Bulgarian Cup as a domestic cup knock-out tournament, has its roots in several tournaments held in Bulgaria through the early 20th century, simultaneously or successively starting in the 1910s with regional Sofia competitions.
The first Bulgarian national tournament was the Tsar's Cup ("King's Cup"). The competition is officially recognized as the foundation of the modern domestic cup by the Bulgarian Football Union. From 1924 until 1937 the tournament was the de facto state championship to determine the Bulgarian national football champions and winners of the tournament for those years are recognized as such by the BFU). The trophy was decided over a series of direct knock-out matches in which the champions of the country's oblasts played in one-legged single-elimination rounds.
In 1937 the first national league was created to determine the football champion of Bulgaria. The tournament for the Tsar's Cup, however, remained a prestigious competition in the country. The winners of the trophy between 1938 and 1942 are officially recognized as domestic cup holders by the BFU.
Soviet Army CupEdit
The competition was not held between 1942 and 1945 due to World War II and only returned in 1946. Bulgaria was now under Communist rule, and reformed their football league structure and competitions along the lines of other Soviet states. The new Central Football Committee created the Soviet Army Cup (Bulgarian: Купа на Съветската армия) in time for the 1945-46 season. For the remainder of the communist period in Bulgaria (between 1945 and 1990), an annual two-legged knock-out tournament was held. The tournament had a national scope but initially included only top tier clubs. It served as the primary means of qualification to the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup between 1960 and 1982.
In 1981, in honour of the 1300th anniversary of the country, another national knock-out football tournament took place awarding the winner the Cup of Bulgaria. The tournament for the Cup of the Soviet Army gradually lost its importance due to the success of the Bulgarian Cup and in 1983 it ceded primacy to the new competition.
The Bulgarian Football Union recognises the historic winners of the Soviet Army Cup as official domestic cup holders for the seasons between 1945–46 and 1981–82, while holders of the Bulgarian Cup are the official domestic cup holders from 1982-83 onwards. Levski Sofia, as the club to have won the Soviet Army Cup most times, were awarded the original trophy to keep in their collection.
The most successful club in the cup tournament is Levski Sofia, having won 25 titles. Levski Sofia also hold the record for the biggest win in a Bulgarian Cup final, winning 5–0 against Pirin Blagoevgrad in 1992 and 5–0 against CSKA Sofia in 1998. CSKA Sofia are the only team to have claimed the trophy, from outside the top level of Bulgarian football, doing so in 2016, while representing the third tier of the country's football pyramid. Furthermore, CSKA Sofia hold the record for winning the most consecutive Bulgarian Cups (3 titles in a row), achieving that on two occasions, between 1972-1974 and 1987-1989.
Performance by clubEdit
A summary of the performance of various clubs who have taken part in the competition is shown in the table below.
Bulgarian Cup (1981–1982)Edit
|1981||CSKA Sofia||1–0||Slavia Sofia||6 June 1981||Vasil Levski National Stadium, Sofia||25,000|
|1982||Levski Sofia||4–0||CSKA Sofia||16 June 1982||Vasil Levski National Stadium, Sofia||30,000|
- In 1981–82 the Winner of Cup of the Soviet Army, Lokomotiv Sofia still qualified for the next edition of 1982–83 European Cup Winners' Cup.
- From 1982–83 onward the Bulgarian Cup was the major Cup tournament.
- From 1981 until 1990 there were two Cup tournaments.
- In 1981 the Cup of Bulgaria was not a serious tournament because only 4 teams took part: CSKA Sofia, Slavia Sofia, Levski Sofia and Botev Plovdiv. It was part of the commemorations for 1300 years of Bulgaria.
- UEFA doesn't recognize as official the 1981 and 1982 tournaments of the Bulgarian Cup and also doesn't recognize as official the Cup of the Soviet Army (1983–1990). This fact has been acknowledged by the article of Lyubomir Serafimov, a football statistician. Its significant that the participants in the 1981–82 European Cup Winners' Cup and 1982–83 European Cup Winners' Cup are teams who won the last two Official Cups of the Soviet Army - Botev Plovdiv and Lokomotiv Sofia.