The Athens Principles

The Athens Principles
The Athens Principles

In the history of humanity, there have been many declarations to restore the rights of all people or groups of people which have been neglacted or taken from them. Example of such widely known declarations are: the Declaration of Independence of the States of America proclaimed  on July 4, 1776; the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen adopted on August 26, 1789; the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights adopted on December 10, 1948.

As human society becomes more stable, the citizens also become more concerned about equal rights in all apsects of life. The human race has now entered a period in history during which it scrutinizes assignements of rights to any group that might be forgotten, independently of the size of that group. For example, on September 13, 2007 the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Along this spirit, on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 Evangelos Marinakis, President of Olympiacos F.C. introduced the Athens Principles for the Right to Participate in Sports, a declaration aiming to make sports accessible to every kid and adult in the globe.   Said with different words, the declaration asks influencial sports institutions to help vulnurable populations overcome inaccessibility and discrimination. Olympiacos was playing an important match at Camp Nou against Barcelona that evening. Just before kick off, Marinakis signed the declaration, with Barcelona’s President Josep Bartomeu cosigning it.  (Read more about this here.)

Since then, more high profile organizations have signed the declaration. Here is a partial list:

Real Madrid, Euroleague, Fnerbahce sign the Athens Principles.
Mr. Stephen Ortega (Harvard University), Mr. Florentino Pérez (President of Real Madrid), Mr. Jordi Bertomeu (President of Euroleague), Mr. Ozan Balaban (Vice President of Fenerbahçe Doğuş) and Mr. Christian Karembeu (Olympiacos FC) sign the Athens Principles.

Here is the text of the declaration:

The Athens Principles on the Right to Participate in Sport,


Sport provides life skills and values that have a long lasting impact on people’s lives. It builds confidence, inspires youth, and helps overcome prejudice. It has the power of transcending borders and bringing people together, regardless of their race, gender, religion, culture or nationality.

The sport industry has grown significantly over the last few decades. Sport teams have worldwide followings and passionate groups of supporters who come from different social backgrounds. This broad base of support contributes to clubs’ widespread presence in social media and to the increased attention that sport organizations receive from the press.

This expanded visibility enables clubs and their players to influence public discussions and to embrace the added social responsibility that comes with such influence. This responsibility extends to ensuring that as many people as possible are able to play the games they love, without encountering discrimination or prejudice.

The responsibility of clubs and their players in promoting universal participation is even more crucial at a time when the number of displaced people in the world escaping conflict or persecution has reached its highest point in history. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 20 people are displaced from their homes every minute, a high percentage of whom are unaccompanied children and disabled men and women.

In the spirit of achieving universal participation, the 2015 UNESCO Sport Charter1 reaffirms that the right to participate in sport is a fundamental right for all. However, many people in the world are still deprived of this right because of lack of opportunity, lack of access or prejudice. It is therefore the responsibility of clubs and sport associations to help extend the benefits of participation in sport to individuals in all communities, especially those who are marginalized or vulnerable.

Guided by our social responsibilities and reflecting the rights and duties established in the UNESCO Sport Charter, we agree to promote, support and implement the following 12 Principles:

1. This Declaration is a common standard of achievement for all clubs, teams, players and sports associations of all sports, to the end that every individual and company should strive, through education and example, to promote respect for these rights and to progressively secure their effective recognition and observance.

2. Every human being has a fundamental right to participate in sport without discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, or national or social origin. Furthermore, no distinction should be made on the basis of the political or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs. Clubs and sport associations should actively campaign against and refuse to engage in any such discrimination at both youth and professional levels.

3. Participation in sport should be based on the principles of healthy and honest competition and respect for all competitors.

4. Initiatives that encourage the participation of displaced people, whatever their civil status, in sporting activities should be supported.

5. Sport for young people should be first and foremost about participation, physical activity and having fun.

6. Girls should have as much access to sport and sport teams as boys, particularly in school and in youth games and leagues.

7. Everyone should have equal access without discrimination to sport training, resources and services, as well as the opportunity to participate in all supervision and decision-making at all levels of sport.

8. Clubs and sport associations agree to encourage greater participation in sport in conflict ridden or economically depressed areas and, when possible, to contribute financial resources, including providing used but appropriate equipment for the use of those people who lack adequate resources to participate in sport.

9. Adequate and safe places, facilities, equipment and dress-options should be provided to meet the needs of all participants in sport, bearing in mind the different needs associated with people of different cultures, genders, ages and abilities.

10. Sport facilities should be made more accessible to a greater percentage of the global population.

11. An International Day of the Right to Play should be declared to affirm the right to participate in sport as a universal and fundamental right and to promote the principles set out in this Declaration.

12. Initiatives should be developed to create partnerships with researchers and NGOs whose work will be helpful to implementing these principles.

Evangelos Marinakis signs The Principle of Athens
Evangelos Marinakis signs The Principles of Athens

Evangelos M. Marinakis
President, Olympiacos F.C