The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, designated the Bulgarian football legend, Hristo Stoichkov, as a UNESCO Champion for Sport in a ceremony, which took place in Sofia (Bulgaria) on Wednesday, 18 May.
The designation comes in recognition of Hristo Stoichkov’s efforts to promote sport as a tool to advance social inclusion and tolerance, his support to physical education among disabled students, his commitment to fighting racism and violence in sport, and his dedication to the aims and values of UNESCO.
The famous No. 8 and former Captain of the football team of Bulgaria, Mr Stoichkov has won numerous prestigious distinctions during his career, including the European Golden Shoe in 1990, the European Golden Ball in 1994, the World Cup Golden Boot in 1994, three times Champion of Bulgaria with his club CSKA Sofia, five times Champion of Spain with FC Barcelona, and winner of the Champions League in 1992.
In his capacity as a UNESCO Champion for Sport, Mr Stoichkov will support UNESCO’s work in physical education and sport. He will work to promote the importance of physical education among disabled people and raise public awareness of sport as a powerful tool to strengthen social ties and networks, and promote ideals of peace, fraternity, solidarity, non-violence, tolerance and justice.
“At UNESCO, we are convinced that the values of solidarity, respect, equal dignity and tolerance are the foundations for the struggle against the scourges of racism and all forms of discrimination. These same values inspire all of UNESCO’s action to foster respect and mutual understanding and to build dialogue between peoples and across all cultures – including through sport, especially football”, said the Director-General at the ceremony.
Ms Bokova also paid tribute to Mr Stoichkov’s numerous projects and activities in Bulgaria to promote sport as a vector of social inclusion and tolerance.
Mr Stoichkov expressed his satisfaction with joining the family of UNESCO Champions for Sport, whose members include legends such as Ukrainian pole-vaulter Serhiy Bubka, Belgian tennis player Justine Henin, Brazilian football icon Edson Arantes Do Nascimento Pelé, German Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher, and Jamaican track and field athlete Veronica Campbell-Brown.