Money, Guns, Islam and Football

Sam Knight (GQ), on Dagestan’s Anzhi Makhachkala Football Club:

When you land at Makhachkala airport, the baggage hall is decked out with posters of the team’s Russian and Dagestani players (and Eto’o). Huge posters line the highways and street corners: “Anji: New History”, “Anji: Territory of Peace”. Not subtle, really. Neither is the symbolism of the new 30,000-seat, “Anji- Arena”, built on the bones of an old stadium, and due to open in March – and rumoured to be staging a game at Russia’s 2018 World Cup – which is slap-bang next to the housing complex for the local FSB headquarters (the successor to the KGB). Then there is the academy, which ran trials for 2,000 Dagestani boys last autumn, and the new football pitches being built across Makhachkala, to give young men something to do.

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