Football is not just the most popular game in the world — it’s a universal language that has long since expanded beyond the boundaries of what it was supposed to be. There’s room for everyone in football — it connects, unites, gives rise to communities and above all else transcends all barriers, whether social, political, cultural or economic, no matter how insurmountable they might seem.
Football is a true phenomenon and as such it cannot (and must not) remain indifferent to developments in social and public dynamics. Moreover, football must be a force for good which inspires its followers to contribute to improving society and strengthening its values.
We, the people of Professional Football Club Ludogorets 1945 AD, are honoured to be part of this phenomenon but also feel responsible to do our part.
The enormous popularity that football enjoys makes it possible for important messages to reach various groups and communities. It helps reduce the stigma associated with marginalised and disabled people, as well as minorities. It can be instrumental in establishing bridges wherever there is cultural, religious, ethnic or social division. The values that football upholds — such as teamwork, honesty, respect for opponents and the rules of the game — are universally recognised and help develop skills that are of great value in sports, as well as in personal and professional life.
Driven by the sense of commitment and compassion for the social, societal, economic and cultural issues of the modern world and by the spirit and principles enshrined in the 2030 UEFA Football Sustainability Strategy and related guidelines, the acts of international law, the Constitution of Bulgaria and the acts of Bulgarian legislation, we are adopting this Policy as part of our efforts to establish the social responsibility principles that will guide our activities.
II. Applicability and Relevance
This Policy, as well as the principles and commitments enshrined in it, shall apply to and be relevant for:
- all of our employees in their daily operations, including directors, professional footballers, coaches and supporting sports and technical staff;
- all of our fans;
- all of our activities — managerial, administrative, sports and technical ones, training-related, competition-related, including activities pertaining to employment, such as personnel recruitment and selection, the exercise of labour rights, the provision of opportunities for professional training and retraining.
III. Our Values and Principles
Equality and Non-Discrimination
We believe that there’s enough room for everyone in football — it is open to anyone wishing to participate, whether as an athlete, employee, fan or just spectator. That is why we are fully committed to providing an inclusive, welcoming and accessible environment and we believe that anyone involved with the club and its activities has the right to be treated fairly, with due respect and honouring their personal dignity and individuality.
In our activities we uphold zero tolerance to any form of discrimination and harassment.
We have absolutely no tolerance for and openly condemn any form of racism, whether at football stadiums or elsewhere. In our activities we strive to encourage interpersonal relationships based on mutual respect, regardless of ethnicity, religious beliefs and background. There must be room for everyone in football.
Diversity and Inclusion
We take into account the identity, characteristics and preferences of individuals. That is why we strive to foster and encourage a sense of belonging among our employees and everyone participating in our activities — toward us and our values. We believe that everyone, with their unique individuality and different point of view, can make valuable contributions for the attainment of our common goals.
Gender Equality and Balance
We view gender equality not only as a basic human right but also as a necessary ingredient for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. That is why we do not allow any different treatment based on gender and instead encourage an attitude to each person consistent with their personal qualities, values and virtues.
We see children and young people as the highest value. As a football club heavily involved in working with children and adolescents and in particular investing in a Youth Academy and maintaining children and junior teams, we are aware of the serious responsibility we bear to safeguard the wellbeing of each child and of each young person, and we are committed to providing a safe environment for all. A child, junior and adolescent is any person under 18 years of age.
In our daily work with children and juniors we firmly uphold the following principles:
- their wellbeing is, and must always be, of the utmost importance;
- all children and juniors have the right to protection against any form of abuse or harassment, irrespective of their age, gender, sexual orientation, race, nationality, ethnic background, skin colour, religion or belief, capability or disability, etc.
- our mission is to ensure and safeguard the wellbeing of all children and young people by protecting them against any physical, sexual or emotional harassment, as well as to establish an environment where adolescents feel encouraged, heard, understood and ultimately capable of expressing their full potential, both on and off the football pitch.
Football for All Abilities
Football is not only for the select few. It must be accessible to all. We support all kinds of initiatives for a broader commitment to the encouragement, protection and assurance of the full and equal exercise of the rights and freedoms of people with disabilities, as well as for the creation of proper conditions not only for their social inclusion in general but also for their involvement with the magic of the game of football. We respect the inherent human dignity of people with disabilities and encourage everyone to respect it as well.
Our long-term commitment to social responsibility is an integral aspect of our activities. We proactively support a number of charitable campaigns and causes for the benefit of society. We, including with our ‘Ludogorets’ Foundation, are striving to:
- support the development and strengthening of spiritual values, healthcare, education, physical exercise, social integration and personal realisation;
- support the social development of disadvantaged groups and communities;
- assist in the protection of human rights, especially for the most vulnerable groups of society;
- support low-income earners and protect the interests of people with permanent disabilities, the elderly and children with poor health and congenital diseases;
- support healthcare institutions and encourage the development of healthcare and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle.
IV. Applicable Law
For us it is important that anyone involved with the club is aware of human rights and freedoms, the meaning of discrimination and its manifestations, as defined in the applicable law, as well as of the principles of non-discrimination in general (which we wholeheartedly share and protect).
Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria
- All persons are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
- All citizens shall be equal before the law. There shall be no privileges or restriction of rights on the grounds of race, national or social origin, ethnic self-identity, sex, religion, education, opinion, political affiliation, personal or social status or property status.
Protection Against Discrimination Act
- Any direct or indirect discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, nationality, ethnic belonging, human genome, citizenship, origin, religion or belief, education, convictions, political affiliation, personal or public status, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, property status, or on any other grounds established by the law, or by international treaties to which the Republic of Bulgaria is a party, shall be forbidden.
- Direct discrimination shall be any less favourable treatment of a person on the aforesaid grounds than another person is, has been or would be treated under comparable circumstances.
- Indirect discrimination shall be to subject a person or persons, on the aforesaid grounds, or persons who, even without exhibiting the aforesaid characteristics, along with the former persons, to a less favourable treatment or at a particular disadvantage, by means of an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice, unless the said provision, criterion or practice have objective justification in view of achieving a lawful objective and the means for achieving this objective are appropriate and necessary.
- ‘Harassment’ shall be any unwanted conduct on the aforesaid grounds, expressed in a physical, verbal or any other manner, which has the purpose or effect of violating the person’s dignity or creating a hostile, degrading, humiliating, offending or intimidating environment.
- ‘Sexual harassment’ shall be any unwanted conduct of sexual nature expressed physically, verbally or in any other manner, which violates the dignity or honour or creates hostile, degrading, humiliating, offending or intimidating environment and, in particular, when the refusal to accept such conduct or the compulsion thereto could influence the making of decisions affecting the person.
- Harassment on the aforesaid grounds, sexual harassment, instigation of discrimination, persecution and racial segregation, as well as building and maintenance of an architectural environment hampering the access of people with disabilities to public places, shall be considered discrimination.
Child Protection Act
- Every child shall have the right to protection with a view to his/her normal physical, intellectual, moral and social development and to protection of his/her rights and interests.
- There shall be no limitation of rights, nor any privilege, on the grounds of race, nationality, ethnic background, sex, origin, property status, religion, education and convictions or disability.
- Every child shall have the right to protection against involvement in activities that are harmful to his or her physical, mental, moral and educational development. Every child shall have the right to protection against all methods of upbringing that undermine his or her dignity; against physical, mental or any other type of violence; against all forms of influence, which go against his or her interests.
- Every child shall have the right to express freely his or her opinion on all issues affecting his or her interests.
Persons With Disabilities Act
- personal choice and independence of people with disabilities and their families;
- equality and non-discrimination;
- social inclusion and full and effective participation of people with disabilities and their families into public life;
- an accessible environment;
- people with disabilities shall have the right to equal access to the physical environment for living, work and recreation, personal mobility, transportation, information and communications.
V. Our Commitment
In order to ensure the sustainability of our values and principles, we:
- mobilise our senior management in familiar and innovative ways in order to attain specific results and in particular by appointing a social responsibility officer for the club who will develop and improve the social responsibility policies and promote ethical behaviours and attitude within the organisation by presenting an appropriate perspective for the basic values and the organisational culture;
- will raise the awareness of our employees on the issues related to diversity, inclusion, equality and basic human rights, as well as child protection. The social responsibility employee will work, in coordination with the senior management, toward the utilisation of the results attained and for the introduction of any necessary changes;
- will work to create a sustainable environment where individual differences and contributions of team members are acknowledged and appreciated, and which promotes respect for each person’s dignity;
- provide equal opportunities for training, development and advancement to all of our employees;
- will work toward deepening the commitment of different groups of employees to activities in the field of social responsibility;
- will ensure equal opportunities for each job candidate in the selection process in order to attract diverse groups of potential job candidates based solely on their personal and professional qualities; we will strive to expand the level of diversity and representation among our employees and fans;
- will improve accessibility for people with disabilities to the stadium and our training facilities, and will encourage volunteering in order to support people with disabilities, as well as their professional training and employment;
- will work to provide a safe environment for children and young people involved with the club, with zero tolerance to any form of discrimination and harassment, and where discipline and the promotion of moral values will play a leading role. In order to ensure that, we will abide by the following principles and actions, among others:
- we will listen to what children and young people have to say about their needs, desires, ideas and worries, and will provide them with the necessary attention, while keeping the appropriate physical distance and ensure the respect of their personal space;
- we will treat all children and young people equally and with the appropriate level of respect, and will encourage open communication based on trust and friendship;
- we will select only competent staff members for immediate work with children and juniors, ones with the necessary experience, and we will require from them and provide them with opportunities to maintain and upgrade their professional qualification;
- we will strive and provide adolescents only with constructive feedback, presented with the necessary enthusiasm, rather than negative criticism; we will respect their achievements on and off the football pitch and stimulate them in appropriate ways;
- we will encourage children and young people to assume full responsibility for their own behaviour;
- if it is necessary to address a specific issue, we will provide the cooperation of third parties, including qualified psychologists and educators.
- we will raise the awareness of the rights of people with disabilities and will support our employees with disabilities in order to facilitate their integration at the workplace, including, as far as possible, providing easier access and a favourable working environment;
- we will encourage women to take the path to leadership positions, guided only by their personal and professional qualities, without any form of gender inequality;
- we will preach and promote zero tolerance to any form of unequal treatment, harassment, discrimination and any behaviour that is incompatible with our principles and values;
- we will participate in programmes, projects and other activities aimed at supporting disadvantaged people, low-income earners and people requiring care;
- we encourage and provide opportunities to anyone who has witnessed or has been subjected to behaviour incompatible with our values and principles to alert the senior management with a view to taking specific measures, and if the behaviour represents a violation of the applicable legislation — the relevant competent authorities will be notified via the procedures envisaged by law;
- we will investigate any employee’s behaviour that is contrary to our values and principles and, where necessary, will impose appropriate sanctions within the applicable law.
VI. Reports and Complaints
Our priority is to observe and uphold our guiding values and principles, while simultaneously striving to prevent their violation.
That is why we encourage anyone who has witnessed or has been subjected to behaviour that is incompatible with our values and principles to use any of our reporting mechanisms. The quick and efficient collection of information gives us greater chances of resolving any incidents and irregularities:
- you can report what you are going through or what you have witnessed directly while at our stadium during a match to any of our stewards or security officers;
- please, do not hesitate to notify us about any irregularities that have occurred by sending us an e-mail to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the following number: +359 (0) 084 615122.
Finally, we call upon anyone who has witnessed or has been subjected to behaviour representing a violation of the applicable law to contact the relevant competent authorities via the procedures envisaged by law. We would do the same.
VII. Our Involvement
The management and employees of the Professional Football Club Ludogorets 1945 AD hereby declare their personal involvement, commitment and responsibility for the implementation of this Policy and call upon anyone involved with the club’s activities to follow our example.
We expect from all of our employees and fans to abide by this Policy and the principles enshrined in it, as well as to refrain from any action that is incompatible with or contrary to it.
VIII. Policy Awareness and Familiarisation
We realise that the awareness and familiarisation of a wide range of individuals with our guiding values and principles is of critical importance if we want to achieve the purposes of this Policy. That is why it will be provided to each of our employees and will be published on our official website. Furthermore, a copy of the Policy may be provided upon request to anyone to whom it applies, on site at our offices in the city of Razgrad, Targovishtko Shose, ‘Ludogorets’ Sports Centre.
IX. Policy Adoption, Review and Updating
This Policy was adopted by a decision of the Board of Directors of Professional Football Club Ludogorets 1945 AD dated 20.02.2023. It will be reviewed periodically and possibly updated to any newly emerging circumstances or changes to the applicable law.