The family of an England fan who died in Bulgarian police custody after he was found in a ‘helpless’ condition at a park amid allegations from officers he was behaving ‘aggressively’, have launched a campaign to bring him home.
Rob Spray, 32, was found in Borisova Gardens, one of Sofia’s most well-known parks, after travelling to the country with friends to watch the Three Lions take on Bulgaria.
A spokesman from the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior confirmed the man had been found in a ‘helpless condition’ in the city centre by police before being taken to hospital, where he later died.
Mr Spray, from Cannock, in Staffordshire, had been due to attend the game, which England won 6-0, in a match that was marred by racist chants from sections of the home crowd.
Rob Spray, 32, (pictured far left) was found in Borisova Gardens, one of Sofia’s most well-known parks, after travelling to the country with friends to watch the Three Lions take on Bulgaria
More than £12,000 has already been raised in an online appeal from his family to bring his body home.
His sister Katie Brown, posted this on Facebook, she said: ‘This is my Brother who died yesterday morning just before he was going to see The England match in Bulgaria we need to get my Brother home could u please help my absolutely broken family get their son back and my Brother back home!
‘Anything left over will be given to Prostate cancer which my dad is fighting ! We don’t know wats happened but he died in police custody in suspicious circumstances! Please share.’
Fellow Baggies fans have clubbed together to pay tribute and raise money towards the cost of flying his body home. Over £12,000 has been raised so far.
The page, set up by friends Roger Wootton and Sam Tongue says: ‘Don’t know exactly what’s happened but we do know Spray was the nicest softest lad everyone ever met.
‘What happened is nothing but a tragedy. We all need to come together to support Spray’s family as much as we can.’
More than £12,000 has already been raised in an online appeal from his family to bring Rob Spray’s (pictured far left) body home
One well-wisher Russell Osborne replied: ‘No one should go to watch football and not come home. Condolences to family and friends.’
Albion fan Mick Coldicott wrote: ‘God bless baggie boy from the away singing section we will carry you in our heart to every game’
Helen Aldred said: ‘Such a lovely son, brother, friend and amazing uncle who was full of so much fun.
‘Loved so very much. Utterly devastating news xxxx love you lots spray family and thinking of u. Love Helen, Adam and Jan xxx’
Elsewhere fellow Baggies fan Mark ‘Snarka’ Whitehouse is auctioning a signed Harry Kane England shirt and Albion jersey and will donate the money to the fundraiser.
He tweeted: ‘As you may know the England lad who died was a big Albion fan I’ve managed to get harry kanes signed England shirt and a signed Albion shirt which I’m auctioning to raise money to get him home please help by bidding or retweeting’
A police officer stands watch in Sofia, Bulgaria, prior to the game with England on Monday
On their website, the Ministry of Interior provided more detail, and said the man ‘suddenly began to act aggressively, raging and threatening’ towards medical staff.
A spokesman said for the Ministry of the Interior added: ‘A 32-year-old man has sadly died.
‘At 10am today, the police received a signal to attend a man in a helpless condition, in the city centre.
‘He was a foreign national, from Britain, and he was taken to hospital but he sadly died.
‘Police are working to clarify all the circumstances in the incident. There is no further detail on any injuries.
‘There will be a forensic examination to find out what the cause of death was.’
A British Foreign Office spokesman said: ‘We are supporting the family of a British man who died following an incident in Sofia, and our staff are in contact with the UK and Bulgarian authorities.’
To donate to the Go Fund Me, click here