DUSHANBE -- The eldest son of Tajik President Emomali Rahmon was named today as the head of Tajikistan's Football Federation, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.
Rustam Emomali was nominated for the position in December. A panel tasked with selecting a president for the country's football federation voted unanimously today for Emomali.
Emomali replaces Suhrob Kosimov, who held the position for 10 years. Kosimov declined to run for the position for another term but was named an "honorary" president of Tajikistan's Football Federation.
Emomali is the founder of the Dushanbe soccer team Istiqlol and has both played for and served as captain of the team. But because of his new post as head of the country's football federation he will no longer play for Istiqlol -- the current champion of Tajikistan -- or have any other connection to the team in a bid to ensure his impartiality.
Emomali said he wants to make football in Tajikistan "professional," meaning the teams should be registered and players should have contracts.
He added that he wants to create a soccer academy to help future players develop the skills needed to compete in international competitions.
Besides being the president of Tajikistan's Football Federation, Emomali is also an official in Tajikistan's Customs Service as head of the department for combating smuggling.
He has also previously been a member of the Dushanbe city council and has taken part, with his father, in international political summits held in Tajikistan.
In June, supporters of the Ravshan soccer club in Kulob rioted after their team lost to Istiqlol. Ravshan fans accused the referee of favoring Istiqlol to the point of allowing a questionable late goal to give the visitors a win over Ravshan, which was in second place at the time.
Ravshan supporters attacked referees and police before turning on the Istiqlol team bus and players' cars.
The Tajik national soccer team is ranked 139th in the world by the world governing body FIFA. Tajikistan was eliminated in November from the qualifying tournament for the 2014 World Cup after losing 4-0 to Japan and 3-0 to Uzbekistan.
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