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, condemning all Bulgarian fans and even the whole country, spread like wildfire. 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 opposes all forms of discrimination.
Photo & Video Shoot
We brought the idea to the Bulgarian Football Union. We staged a photo 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 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 its launch, the campaign was presented live on Sky Sports and the Scarf of Respect was widely covered in media around the world. Scarves for each player of the England national team were sent to the England Football Association, whose president issued a letter thanking the Bulgarian Football Union for the initiative.
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 by itself cannot be a solution to such a widespread and global problem. But we believe all small steps in the right direction can spark the right conversations and help us find the right way forward.