Valery Gazzaev: "Russia and Azerbaijan should not lose sports ties"
The All-Russian action 'Street krasava' has kicked off in Moscow on July 3. On the sidelines of this event, the famous football coach, Deputy Chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee on Physical Culture, Sport, Tourism and Youth Affairs Valery Gazzaev told Vestnik Kavkaza about Russian-Azerbaijani contacts in football.
- Valery Georgievich, first of all, how do you assess the organisation of the UEFA Europa League Final in Baku?
- It is a pity that I wasn't able to visit it myself, I had a lot of work in the State Duma, but, of course, I watched the final and watched how it was organized. Hosting such a great match, the UEFA Europa League Final, in Baku is a great achievement. Azerbaijani football has a large tradition, and I think this match will help to increase the popularity of football in the country. The best European teams arrived in Baku, and the youth saw what they should strive for, and this is a big stimulus for the development of sports.
- In your opinion, what caused the British Foreign Office's advise to refrain from traveling to Baku?
- We heard the same statements before the World Cup in Russia. Western media, especially the British ones, called for a boycott of the World Cup, but in the end everyone came here and saw how Russia organized it. English football manager Gareth Southgate, for example, said back then that he didn't see any horrors in Russia described by Western journalists and expressed regret that many fans didn’t come to the World Cup because of such dirty propaganda in the UK media. And those who came, saw real Russia, a hospitable and kind country. Exactly the same thing happened before the Europa League final in Baku.
- Tell us about your recent visit to Baku.
- It was a visit dedicated to Veli Kasumov's 50th anniversary - last year the Russian national team arrived in Baku to play a match against the Azerbaijani team. We had a very warm and kind meeting. Of course, we missed each other, many have not seen each other for a long time. Then everything was great, we had a great conversation. I think we should have more such meetings, because we should not lose touch. Russia and Azerbaijan are independent states now, but our relations remain warm, and it must be maintained in the future.
- What are your impressions of modern Baku and Azerbaijan?
- Modern Baku is a magnificent, beautiful city. It is clearly seen that Azerbaijan’s social and economic life is solid, thanks in large part to President Ilham Aliyev. We see this not only in Baku, but also in the regions of the republic - they look quite comfortable, the development and progress of Azerbaijan are noticeable.
- Are there any plans for the development of street football in the Caucasus?
- Of course. There were two or even three players from Kabardino-Balkaria and one player from Karachay-Cherkessia in the last year's 'Street krasava' team. This is an all-Russian initiative, it applies to the whole country. According to the results of the local championships, we collect opinions of the coaches who deal with these guys, they make recommendations, and we form the team. That's the rules of the action.