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Riot Result Of Tajikistan Football Match Favoritism?

Riot In The Stands In Tajikistani
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June 15, 2011
Violence broke out after a championship football match between Istiqlol from Dushanbe and hometown Ravshan from Kulyab on June 14.
WATCH: Violence broke out after a championship football match between Istiqlol from Dushanbe and hometown Ravshan from Kulob on June 14. (Amateur video obtained by RFE/RL's Tajik Service)

There was a big football match in Kulob, Tajikistan, on June 14 that turned into minor riot that left at least 10 people injured and some 20 others in jail.

The two top teams in the league -- Istiqlol from Dushanbe and Ravshan from Kulob -- were playing in the final. Istiqlol won 1-0, the same result as a previous match between the two teams on May 3 in Dushanbe.

The problem, apparently, was the presence of Istiqlol captain, forward, and founder Rustam Emomali, the son of Tajikistan's president. Some of the Ravshan fans believed the referees in the match were more than a bit biased. The winning strike came in the final minutes of the game and some Kulob fans claimed offside should have been whistled and the goal should not have counted. As the game ended, fans hurled stones at the referees and pandemonium broke out in the stadium.

Kulob fans poured into the streets outside the stadium, fighting with Istiqlol supporters and members of local law enforcement and damaging automobiles. One unidentified witness said some of the Kulob fans used "offensive words." Police used tear gas and percussion grenades to disperse the crowd.

Kulob fans have a reputation for being excessively rowdy at matches.

Back in Dushanbe, government officials were quick to assure the country's people that the Istiqlol team captain and the rest of the team were unhurt in the commotion. Three of the Kulob players were hurt, but no details of their injuries were provided.

Charges of "hooliganism" have been brought against those detained.

Tajikistan's Football Federation fined the Kulob club and banned the club from playing at home for the next five matches.

On the bright side, Rustam Emomali presented the Kulob team with a new bus prior to the match.

-- Bruce Pannier
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