Friday, October 23, 2009

Sheriff beats Twente

I'm not the world's greatest football fan, but Sheriff Tiraspol's 2-0 defeat of Dutch league leaders Twente cannot go without comment.

I didn't see the game, so I'm not able to talk about the quality of the football.  My interest is, as usual, in the geopolitics.

Some forum contributors in Moldova are tearing their hair out because of the shame of Moldova being represented by a team from a region controlled by separatists.  What makes it worse is that the team is sponspored by the huge and corrupt Sheriff business empire that runs most of Transnistria's economy, and that you would be hard-pressed to find a member of the team who speaks a word of Romanian (although it has to be said there are a lot of imports on the team as well as Rusofiles).

I tend to be in the other camp.  Football is one area where the country has remained united throughout the 18 years of the conflict, with teams from both banks of the Nistru playing in the national league.  When Sheriff Tiraspol took the field, it was the Moldovan flag that was raised and the Moldovan national anthem that was sung ("Our language is a treasure"!).  When they arrive back victorious they will be met by the fans (many of whom live in the capital and are ethnic Romanians) at Chisinau airport.

What is a great sporting triumph for Sheriff is actually a great political defeat for separatism.  The AIE would do well to rub salt into Smirnov's wounds by holding some sort of reception for them at the end of their European campaign.  They are, after all, the Moldovan national champions, and they have had more success in Europe than any Moldovan team before them.  They should be recognised as such.

2 comments:

  1. Just watched a highlights package - very impressive.

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  2. This is defeat for some antirussians, not for separatism. U cant bilt team or stadium, but transnistian can! People in Tiraspol have nothing against Moldavian national anthem. Dont mix politic here, it is enought problem..

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