The French writer and philosopher Albert Camus reportedly once said, “Everything I know about morality and the obligations of men, I owe it to football.” Camus obviously never saw how the Beautiful Game is played in Tajikistan.
Everything you need to know about the state of football in Central Asia’s poorest state is encapsulated in an incident that occurred September 6, 2012. In one of the most significant football victories for the country since it gained independence in 1991, the Tajik national team defeated Qatar on that day, 2-1, in a friendly match played in Ingolstadt, Germany. While the result may not have been as odds-defying at the United States’ 1-0 victory over England in the 1950 World Cup tournament, it still qualified as a major upset. The funny thing was the vice president of the Tajik Football Federation, Azizbek Rajabov, was AWOL for the game. Although Rajabov accompanied the Tajik team to Germany for the friendly, he reportedly skipped the game itself in order to make a quick shopping trip to Italy.
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Emanuele Giulianelli is a freelance sports reporter based in Italy.