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Champions: The Sheriff’s Transnistria or football between nostalgic Stalin and criminals who protect the disabled | Champions League 2021

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 Champions: The Sheriff's Transnistria or football between nostalgic Stalin and criminals who protect the disabled |  Champions League 2021

The place where Madrid travels to play in the Champions League concentrates tensions and characters from the worst episodes in the history of Europe

Transnistria, home of tensions.Illustration: Raúl Arias
  • Classification This is how the groups march before the decisive days

Transnistria is claimed by Moldova and Moldova is claimed by Romania. A territory smaller than La Rioja, the peninsular autonomous community with less extension, concentrates tensions inherited from the Ottoman and Russian empires, and characters from the Soviet era and the Cold War, as if it were a frozen pizza with some of the worst ingredients in the history of Europe. Football is like ivy, it grows in the most adverse places and circumstances, as the German and British soldiers demonstrated on December 24, 1914, coming out of their trenches on the Flanders front to the sound of ‘Stille Nacht’ (Night of peace), greet each other, exchange tobacco and put a ball in play. In Transnistria it never stopped rolling, it was pushed by the Siberian deportees from Josef Stalin or for those who feel nostalgic for the ‘Little Father’, turned into the parents of the Sheriff, a state within the State with its own soccer team.

Real Madrid visits next week an area marked, according to the Spanish Diplomatic Information Office, by a “frozen conflict.” There is nothing to fear, however, because the Champions League suits everyone, whether they are Moldovans, Russians or Romanians. It is a good manna for the place with the lowest per capita income in Europe (333 euros per month). A cleaning woman earns less than 100.

Putin. oligarchs and smuggling

The Republic of Transnistria, which occupies the strip between the Dniester River and the Ukrainian border, is not recognized by any country, but has a currency, flag and the support of Vladimir Putin. In front is Vadim krasnoselski, son of a Soviet military man who was transferred to Bender, the second Transnistrian city after Tiraspol, where the team of Carlo Ancelotti. In Bender, a military stronghold where, today, a castle guarded by the military prevents access to foreigners, the ‘Urcas’ also arrived, members of a lodge of Siberian thieves who could not be deported to the gulags, because they constituted their own home, they already lived in the archipelago of horror discovered to the world by the Nobel Prize Aleksander Solzhenitsyn. So they looked for a corner on the other side of the USSR.

Krasnoselski was brought to power by the Sheriff group, a state-owned company created by Viktor Gushan and Ilya Kazmaly, which controls all activity, from gas stations to supermarkets. Gushan worked for the KGB, like Putin. The magazine ‘Foreign Policy’, from the editor of the ‘Washington Post’, links the origin of Gushan’s fortune to smuggling and the permissiveness he enjoys to avoid taxes. The opacity protects you. The construction of the team is due to the dynamics of other oligarchs who benefited from the ruin of others in the abrupt transition between communism and capitalism, such as Shakhtar Donetsk or Zenit of Saint Petersburg: players far from the spotlight, many of them South American.

A Granada in the locker room

Florin MotrocInstead, he had a better understanding of where he was. He is Romanian. It arrived in Tiraspol just two years after the new owners acquired the Sheriff, in the 1998/99 season. Enough to take home some scary memories of running the club. «It was the break of a game and we were losing. Gushan walked into the locker room and threw a grenade on the floor. We were all scared to death. Three minutes later he came back and told us: ‘If you don’t draw, after the game the grenade will be real,’ “he explained in an interview. That year they won the Moldavian Cup.

That warlike landscape is remembered for Nikolai Lilin in Siberian Education, edited in Spain by Salamandra, beyond the express civil war that followed in the territory after the fall of the USSR. A member of the Urcas, Lilin explains the strict moral laws of the Siberian deportees, despite living off crime: respect for the elderly and women, and the protection of the disabled, because they are “ angels of God who do not know how to hate ” After the Russian military killed a deficient young man, the ‘Urcas’ razed the headquarters of those responsible. Likewise, a member of the lodge murdered in cold blood a couple of drug addicts who had left their baby to die, abandoned between rags. Marked by hierarchical tattoos, they had sacred customs, such as not entering the house with weapons and respecting grandparents. If a child lost them, a foster child was sought out for advice.

Prorumans and Prorussians

After his time in the Russian army, with which he fought in Chechnya, Linin, already settled in Italy, offered a fragment of this territory stopped in time, which he corroborated, when he passed through the Sheriff as coach, the Spanish Juan Ferrando. ” It’s like a communist movie, ” the technician told this newspaper to Abraham Romero. Ferrando arrived at the team in a stage that was already more stable than the one Motroc had to experience, although not without tension. The civil war for control of the area was followed by the echo of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, on the border. Although the current geography takes neighboring Moldova out of the Balkans, there is no doubt that by history and culture it belongs to the powder keg of Europe where the First World War already originated and from which Winston churchill He said it produced more history than he was able to digest. So it goes on.

Despite considering himself from another country, the Sheriff disputes the league of Moldova, from whose capital, Chisinau, he governs the country Maia sandu, pro-European and pro-Roman, with a tendency opposed to the pro-Russians and Philosoviets who run the club and this strange republic considered by Moldova as an “autonomous territorial unit with special status.” A limbo. The paths of football are not questioned, at least far from the Super League, and the one that led to the Champions League was a must. The victory at the Bernabéu allowed them to show themselves to the world. Although it is with soccer players of fortune, the Sheriff’s team is his figurehead, his sickle and his hammer.



Reference from elmundo