THE MOLDOVAN DERBY

 

The Republic of Moldova is a small country at the edge of the European Union; unknown to most it is primarily mentioned in newspapers for its extreme poverty, corruption and emigration rates.
It was part of the Soviet Union and today an independent state bordering Ukraine to the North, Romania (and the EU) to the West and with a pro-Russia self-declared Transnistria region in the East and the autonomous Turkish-speaking Gagauzia province in the South.

The football team representing the “Capital” of Transnistria (FC Sheriff Tiraspol), represents a self-declared independent region but plays in the main national league of the Moldovan Republic: basically it is competing (and winning all the time) against the clubs of the same official state which Transnistria had separated from.

If the stadium is a space where identities are outed while reflecting the outside society, football perfectly mirrors the many inner contrasts Moldova is rich on. While the football arena provides a centre around which fragmented local communities are reinforced, at the same time this sport works as unique common ground for communication: clubs from the different regions cross borders in order to play every Sunday on a shared field, sitting side by side on the bench and building dialogue for the future, while running for the goal to win.

With a passion for football, years ago I noticed the FC Sheriff football team playing in international tournaments and got curious about it; I got to discover more about it and its rivals during numerous trips the Republic of Moldova following the main league fixtures.
Photographing the Moldovan national football is also about showing daily life in a nation looking for normality, while building new identities on its controversial past and present.