Frauds with tickets, a fight in a hotel and riot police. 18 years of the first match of clubs from Armenia and Azerbaijan
Heat at the Commonwealth Cup.
The Commonwealth Cup has not been held since 2016, but fans still remember the tournament. In addition to leapfrog with the regulations, the debut of Mukunku and the historic final of South Africa – Finland, he presented a passionate match Pyunik – Neftchi. For the first time in post-Soviet history, clubs from Armenia and Azerbaijan met. Naturally, it ended in scandal.
The match took place on the anniversary of Black January. This is how Azerbaijan called the tragedy with the introduction of Soviet tanks in Baku
In Soviet times, meetings between Armenian and Azerbaijani teams were not considered a high-risk area. Moreover, players from one Transcaucasian republic often left to play for the clubs of their neighbors. This continued until the mid-1980s, when national conflicts escalated – they were quickly reflected in football. For example, in 1988, Ararat played with Neftchi in Chisinau just against the backdrop of interethnic turbulence. In the same season, the Baku team went to Volgograd for a nominally home match with the Yerevan team. Both meetings were peaceful.
Since then, Armenian and Azerbaijani clubs in the top Soviet division have not intersected. “Neftchi” took the penultimate 15th place and relegated to the first league. There he met with the Kotayk club from the city of Abovyan, the matches were held in Novorossiysk. And already in the 1990 season, the rivals received a technical defeat for refusing to play with each other.
Just in 1990, dramatic events took place that still determine relations between peoples. According to the 1989 census, 1.8 million people lived in Baku, 200 thousand of them were Armenians. At the end of the decade, the ethnic composition of the city changed a lot. Against the backdrop of the Karabakh crisis, Azerbaijani refugees rushed to Baku, which provoked domestic and interethnic clashes. The radical leaders of the Popular Front movement also tried their best. They recalled that while refugees spend the night on the streets, thousands of Armenians live in warm apartments in the main city of Azerbaijan.
On January 13, the pogroms began. A crowd of thousands went from house to house, evicted the Armenians and threatened them with violence. The police did not react, and this gave rise to the version that the chaos was not spontaneous. The Armenian interpretation claims that the instigators prepared in advance the addresses where the minority lived, and the crowd acted in a coordinated and completely controlled manner. Azerbaijan adheres to a different interpretation: the pogroms were provoked by the allied center, which was interested in bringing troops into the republic.
The army entered Baku a few days later, on January 20. During this time, the rioters prepared and built barricades on the streets. The city was stormed by 26 thousand soldiers and officers, but the use of force was not at all selective. Tanks gave cars indiscriminately, there were cases of shooting at children.
Dozens of people died in those events. During the pogroms, up to 90 Armenians were killed, and as a result of the introduction of troops, up to 170 more residents of the city were killed. The Soviet army also suffered losses – 26 people. Today, the events of 33 years ago are remembered in Azerbaijan as Black January. They hastened the downfall of the Communist Party in the republic and finally pushed it towards secession from the USSR.
Since then, every year on January 20, the victims of the tragedy are remembered in Azerbaijan. The match between Pyunik and Neftchi at the 2005 Commonwealth Cup took place on the eve of this day, on January 19.
The Neftchi boss let fans in with already used tickets. In the stands they fought for the flag and shouted Russian obscenities
Until 2012, the champions of the leagues of independent countries that were previously part of the USSR played at the Commonwealth Cup. True, in 2005 the best clubs in Russia and Ukraine missed the group stage, and they were immediately admitted to the semi-finals.
Only the winners of the groups advanced to the playoffs, and after the draw it became clear that the winners of the championships of Armenia and Azerbaijan could meet in the quarterfinals. “Neftchi” took six points in two matches with the Moldavian “Sheriff” and the Turkmen “Nebitchi”. Pyunik went further only thanks to the better goal difference: they scored one more goal against the Tajik club Regar-TadAZ than the Riga Skonto.
All play-off matches were held in the Dynamo Moscow arena with stands for 1500 spectators, there were no empty seats at the Pyunik-Neftchi game. There are several videos from that match on the Internet. The more emotional one abounds in Russian swearing, so we can’t post it (which doesn’t stop you from finding it yourself). Posting something else:
From the videos, it seems that the majority of the audience supported Neftchi, although the Armenian fans were definitely there, even if they behaved more calmly. In addition, the vice-president of the Baku club Ramin Musayev did his best, whose interview from 2011 looks like a frank confession.