Creative Agency: NEXT-DC
Client: Bulgarian Football Union
Momchil Zakhariev, Alexander Antonov
Art Direction: Ilian Iliev
Account Management: Atanas Angelov
Photography & Video: Vasil Germanov
On October 14th 2019, during a EURO 2020 qualifiying match, English players were subjected to racist chanting from sections of the crowd in Sofia. Bulgaria lost 0:6, but suffered an even greater defeat in world media. The headlines, often condemning all Bulgarian fans, spread like wildfire. As football fans, a small team from our agency felt compelled to take action.
Football often divides us — by country, team or favourite player. Regrettably, this can grow into a division by race, religion or gender. But above all, football is a game that unites millions of people around the world.
Football scarves are traditionally a symbol of division between fans. That's why we decided to create a scarf that unites them — not in support of a country or team, but inspired by the love for a game, equall for all. The Scarf of Respect was created as a symbol which can be proudly worn by anyone who condemns all forms of discrimination.
Photo & Video Shoot
We proposed the initiative to the Bulgarian Football Union. Together, we organised a photosession and video shoot with several national team players — captain Ivelin Popov, Brazilian-born Marcelinho, Bozhidar Kraev, women's goalkeeper Viktoriya Dimova, as well as players from the youth team.
Campaign Launch Video
The Next Match
The initiative was launched just in time for Bulgaria's next match, played behind closed doors due to punishment from UEFA. The scarf was worn by football legends Martin Petrov and Hristo Yanev during the match broadcast studio, as well as by the kids escorting the players on the pitch.
Within 24 hours of the campaign launch, the scarf and initiative was presented live on Sky Sports. The news quickly spread in world media, shifting the topic of headlines from a negative portrayal of Bulgaria and its fans, to coverage of a positive initiative and a small step in the right direction.
Scarves for the English national players were sent to the England Football Association, whose president issued a letter thanking the Bulgarian Football Union for the thoughtful gesture and prompt response.
The Scarf of Respect is on sale on the campaign website and Bulgaria Football Union's online store. All proceedings will be donated to organisations fighting inequality and discrimination in football.
The campaign and product cannot by itself tackle such a big issue, but we believe it can start a conversation and help find the right steps forward.