A tournament celebrating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights coincided with the start of a new partnership between the Bulgarian FA and the United Nations Association of Bulgaria.
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Various diplomatic missions, institutions and non-governmental organisations in Bulgaria again showcased football's power to unite people, on the pitch of the Boyana national football base in April.
Under the patronage of the Bulgarian minister of foreign affairs, Ekterina Zaharieva, this year's tournament commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
At the same time, the Bulgarian Football Union (BFS) and the United Nations Association of Bulgaria joined forces to promote tolerance and respect for human rights through sport by entering into a cooperation agreement signed by the BFS deputy executive director, Pavel Kolev, and the vice-chairwoman of the United Nations Association of Bulgaria, Petranka Fileva. The initiative is the start of a new long-term partnership between the two organisations.
The partnership is based on the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – in particular Goal 3 Good Health and Well-Being, Goal 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, and Goal 17 Partnerships for the Goals – as well as the promotion of sport as a means of diplomacy for achieving peace and understanding between nations.
"I am certain that this partnership will achieve very valuable results that are not only beneficial for Bulgarian society, but also at European level, and why not worldwide," stated Pavel Kolev.
He highlighted that football has always been a game that unites people. "In this context it is good for us as a federation and the United Nations Association of Bulgaria to work together in an attempt, if not to resolve, then at least lighten the burden of a number of social issues."
This year's match once again proved to be a show of the universal language of peace and human rights, regardless of gender, age, origin, religion and social status, as well as a way to overcome differences in people's beliefs.
Seven teams represented the diplomatic missions of Turkey, Iran, Sudan and Ukraine, with other teams representing the Bulgarian ministry of foreign affairs, the International Relations Research Student Association (IRRSA) and the United Nations Association of Bulgaria. The Turks took the title for a second year in a row, and also garnered most of the individual achievement awards. The podium was shared by the IRRSA, who came in second, and Iran, who took third place.
This article originally appeared in UEFA Direct 178