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His Majesty Football reigns over the world these days. “Entire progressive humanity” including hundreds of thousands or may be millions of fans from Turkmenistan fixed their eyes on the football battles taking place in Japan and Korea. Preferences are divided: some of the funs mechanically support (rather finished supporting) Russia, others obeying ethno-cultural instincts are the fans of Turkey and a third party - connoisseurs and experts with a good record – give their preferences to the long-standing favorites – Brazilians, Englishmen, Italians.

People do like football and really understand it in Turkmenistan. There are own football traditions and a good base there. One should recall a coach called Nepomnyaschiy, who managed “to tame” the lions of Cameroon and to lead them nearly up to the finale stage at Mundiale-90. Unfortunately we are left with no choice than to be fans of other teams. Neither in soviet nor in post soviet periods had Turkmen national team ever gain any sounding victories. If in the first example it could be explained by the same “residual” principal of the overall financing of Turkmen Soviet Socialistic Republic (including republican football) from the Center, then in the second example we should talk about more concrete occurrences and deeds, namely that in the mid and the end of 90th, when there were people in charge of the national federation who turned it into a feeding rack, the hopes for revival of the Turkmen football were seriously dashed. Exactly in that time corruption, nepotism and favoritism were on a rise there. The funds allocated by the government to the development of material resources used to be channeled into the pockets of football bosses, for bribes of referees, for organization of contracted matches. Who needed such kind of “victories” that neither fans nor players wanted to recall? Only “organizers” of such games were happy for the sake of victorious reports and in justification of their self-importance. Some of the players and the whole teams on the other hand were robbed and became corrupted (let us recall again the story about “disappearance” of the football uniform sets bought abroad for $100 000). All aforementioned led to an unhealthy atmosphere, disappointment and undermining belief in justice of footballers, especially young ones, and not only in the pitch but also off it.

Fortunately this is over. To a certain extent that was exactly football where President Niyazov had initiated a fight against corruption in the upper structures of power. Football bosses dismissed from their positions and deprived of an access to the feeding rack ran away. In the background of a general recovery of a situation in the country Turkmen football is gradually returning to the principals of fair play proved by recently held international tournament in Ashgabat for the Cup of the President of Turkmenistan. Turkmen team did not win it but it was a fair play. I am confident that a real revival of Turkmen football will start from this point.

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By Serdar Durdiyev

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