Football: FK Qarabag Agdam
When I visited Baku in the middle of September 2014, a Europa League group phase football match between the Azerbaijani club FK Qarabag Agdam and St. Etienne from France was taking place in the Tofiq Bahramov Stadium.
Qarabag is actually a football club from the city of Agdam, which is nowadays a ghost town due to heavy fightings during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Hence, since 1993, the club is based in Baku and plays in the Tofiq Bahramov Stadium.
I took the chance to get me a ticket for the Europa League match, the evening before the game. So I went to the stadium where the ticket booths were open and many locals were hanging around. I got in contact with one of them in the queues and asked him about prices and the procedure.
If I got it right, most tickets cost only 1 or 2 AZN (approx. 1 or 2 Euro) and the price range was up to 10 AZN (approx. 10 Euro) for the more expensive tickets.
There were also a few security guys on duty to regulate the flow of people at the ticket booths, but actually I found everything quite normal, except the fact that I was obviously the only foreigner here.
When it was my turn, I asked the cashier in my basic Russian for a ticket and as he of course noticed that I was a foreigner he offered me one of the 10 AZN tickets and also explained to me the location in the stadium being one of the best. So I bought the ticket.
On the match day I went early to the stadium to soak up the atmosphere. The square in front of the stadium was packed with Azerbaijani supporters. Some were selling tickets, others sold snacks or flags and scarfs of Qarabag Agdam. Interesting enough I didn't see anyone wearing a football shirt, but a few had flags of Azerbaijan or Qarabag. The atmosphere was actually very peacefull.
I entered the stadium and searched for my seat, which was located on the long side in the lower part near the centre line. Later I realised that next to me the guy sat whom I had spoken to the day before when I got me the ticket. He had brought along his son, who also spoke English and even some German.
When I took some photos before the match, an Azerbaijani TV team came to me and asked if I were French - as St. Etienne is a club from France. So I told them that I was a traveller from Germany and was just interested to attend the match. They asked me for an interview and I was happy to answer their questions.
With approximately 30.000 spectators the stadium was almost sold out. Only the French side was with estimated 50 people relatively empty. Unfortunately the match ended with a 0:0 draw and was not overly exciting, although Qarabag was the better team. Still I very much enjoyed the atmosphere.
After the match the nearby metro station "Genclik" was closed to prevent accidents with too many people on the platforms. So I followed the flow of people along the main streets which were closed as well. Every now and then I asked for directions and that way got in contact with some local supporters. I finally found the open metro station "Nariman Narimanov" from where I got back to my accommodation.
- Budget Travel
Football, England v azerbaijan, 13th october 2004, world cup qualifer. 1-0 to Enlgand, Michael Owen 22mins.
Winds of 60mph, and heavy rain nearly had the game called off, but the atmosphere was good, the police treated us well, and they even sold beer at half time! all in all, a great visit to an interesting city!
- Budget Travel
Gaint Waving Hand
Our leader demonstrates the new gaint 'Supporters Hand' for those fanatical sports spectors to stand out in the crowd on one of the 12 huge billboards scattered around a tiny village near Baku.
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