An Aghdam football club represents the South Caucasus at the main European football tournament for the first time
The Karabakh football club, which represents the Azerbaijani city of Aghdam, overcame the Danish ‘Copenhagen’ team with two wins, and was entered into the group stage of the European League of Champions. Despite the loss in Copehangen with a low score of 1:2, Karabakh made it onto the next stage thanks to a goal scored on the away field. The first current game in Baku ended one week ago with a victory for Azerbaijan with a score of 1:0.
Thus, ‘Karabakh’ became the first representative of countries of the South Caucasus at this most prestigious club tournament of Europe since the tournament’s inception in 1992.
Karabakh’s victory brought about a lot of excitement amongst fans of the team. Automobiles honked all night, people danced in the streets and sang the slogans of the team. In the morning, more excited karabakh fans went to the international airport of Baku in order to organize a ceremonious meet and greet for their idols.
The entrance of the Karabakh team into the group stage of the Champions League also has economic importance for Azerbaijan. For entering into the group stage, the football club will receive EUR 12.7 million (USD 15 million) from the European Football Federation. According to economist Torghul Veliyev, this is more than the countries’ entire export of copper (USD 14 million) and is equal to potato exports (USD 15 million).
For every goal made during the group tournament, Karabakh will earn additional bonuses of EUR 1.5 million for every victory, and EUR 500 000 for every draw.
Karabakh FC was founded in 1950 under the ‘Mehsul’ (Harvest) theme. They are five-time champions of Azerbaijan. They have been competing under the name Karabakh since the Karabakh conflict began back in 1987.
At the time, another team by the name of Karabakh was competing and represented the capital of the region, Stepanakert or Khankendi as it is called by Azerbaijanis. After Aghdam went under Armenian control in July 1993, the Karabakh team was rebased to the village of Guzanli in the same region. But home games at the international level are played out in the republic stadium in Baku.