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Tajik Soccer Star Loses Power, Water After Scoring Two Goals

Ahtam Hamroqulov, a player for the Regar-TadAZ soccer team in Tajikistan, gets a red card -- and his water and electricity cut off.
Ahtam Hamroqulov, a player for the Regar-TadAZ soccer team in Tajikistan, gets a red card -- and his water and electricity cut off.
It seems some officials in the southern Tajik city of Qurgonteppa take soccer -- and their local team -- quite seriously, possibly a little too seriously.

Ahtam Hamroqulov -- a big name in the sport nationally -- says city officials cut off electricity and water supplies to his house in Qurgonteppa just hours after he scored two goals against the city's team in a key national tournament earlier this month.

Hamroqulov, a native of Qurgonteppa, left the city's Vakhsh team two years ago to play for the Regar-TadAZ team in a neighboring town after reportedly receiving a bigger salary.

"During a semifinal match of the Tajikistan Cup tournament, I scored two goals against Vakhsh, and came home with my two teammates from Regar-TadAZ to celebrate the victory," Hamroqulov told RFE/RL.

But Hamroqulov said he had several other unexpected guests waiting for him at the house in Qurgonteppa, where he still lives with his parents.

The guests introduced themselves as representatives of the city mayor's office, and the electricity, water, and sewage departments.

Hamroqulov was told he had failed to pay his utility bills for a couple of months and was presented with "water and electricity bills" totaling around $600.

Hamroqulov said the officials also "reproached" him for "scoring goals against his own hometown team."

'I Always Pay My Bills'

"I always pay my utility bills 100 percent and I keep the receipts," Hamroqulov said. "So, I told them to take their bills and leave."

The officials left but not before cutting off the electricity and water supply to his house, and sealing the meters.

Mirzo Ashurov, the head of the city's water and sewage department, confirmed the incident but said there was no ulterior motive. "I don't even know who Hamroqulov is, and which team he plays for," he said. "We don't have any personal agenda against anyone and don't sink that low. There are people who don't pay their bills and we just issue them warnings."

Hamroqulov said his electricity and water were not restored until Rustam Emomali, the head of the Tajik Football Federation -- and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon's son -- weighed in.

"It has been solved now," Hamroqulov said. "I complained to the federation. We were left without electricity for four to five days. I complained about the city officials to Rustam Emomali."

Perhaps not coincidentally, that assist came just after Regar-TadAZ lost the Tajikistan Cup final to Istiqlol, a team founded by the president's son.

Written by Farangis Najibullah, with additional reporting by RFE/RL's Tajik Service correspondent Mirzo Salimov
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    Farangis Najibullah

    Farangis Najibullah is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL who has reported on a wide range of topics from Central Asia, including the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the region. She has extensively covered efforts by Central Asian states to repatriate and reintegrate their citizens who joined Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

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