Bunyodkor’s Brazilians Exit Tashkent
Tashkent soccer club Bunyodkor’s troubles continue with the news that its Brazilian stars have packed their bags and left Uzbekistan. The quartet – Rivaldo, Denilson, Joao Victor and Edson Ramos – did not feature in Bunyodkor’s 2-0 victory on August 5 and are reported to have flown home to Brazil.Rumor has it that Zeromax GmbH, the Swiss-registered conglomerate believed to have links to Uzbek President Islam Karimov’s eldest daughter Gulnara "GooGoosha" Karimova, bankrolled Bunyodkor.Zeromax has been in financial difficulties of late and work on a 35,000-seat stadium in Tashkent has frozen, with giant cranes standing idle over the huge construction site. 2002 World Cup winner Rivaldo joined the then-cash-rich club on August 28, 2008 on a one-year contract worth a cool $14 million over two years: not bad for a player who was 36 at time and in the twilight of his career. Bunyodkor’s manager Luiz Filipe Scolari, also from Brazil, parted company with the club on May 29, less than a year into his 18 month contract which was said to be worth around $18 million a year, citing mutual consent and family reasons. Current manager Mirjalol Qosimov is upbeat about the team’s prospects, despite losing its Brazilian heart, and believes he has a squad that can continue to bring success to Tashkent in the future. Bunyodkor was eliminated in the second round of this year’s Asian Champions League but is still a force to be reckoned with in Uzbekistan. Halfway through the season, it currently leads the country’s Oliy Liga league by seven points over city rival Pakhtakor.
Paul Bartlett is a journalist based in Almaty.