In the spring of 1206, legend has it, the Mongol steppe saw the largest-ever gathering of nomadic tribes. Featuring athletic competitions and festivities, the weeks-long event marked the unification of warring Mongol tribes under the leadership of Genghis Khan, the legendary Mongol conqueror.
Soccer's 2014 FIFA World Cup came to an exciting conclusion on July 13 with Germany's 1-0 victory over Argentina in extra time. Russian President Vladimir Putin attended the final, sitting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
On June 26, Russia plays Algeria in a World Cup Group H match that should determine which of the two teams moves on from group play to the round of 16. Beyond Russia’s borders, in other formerly Soviet states, there are plenty of football fans cheering for the Russian national team to win.
The French writer and philosopher Albert Camus reportedly once said, “Everything I know about morality and the obligations of men, I owe it to football.” Camus obviously never saw how the Beautiful Game is played in Tajikistan.
Every Sunday a group of Central Asian men gather to play volleyball in a school stadium located not far from the Kantemirovskaya metro station in Moscow. For participants, the weekly competition offers a welcome respite from the usual rigors faced by labor migrants in the Russian capital.
The home opener on a recent Saturday for FC Kairat, Kazakhstan’s most storied football club, featured lots of pre-game pomp, the sort of festivities that tend to swaddle major sporting events around the globe.
The lumbering and stubborn Bactrian camel might not be an obvious contender in a polo match, but a Mongolian initiative to save the two-humped beasts is taking a traditional sport of the steppes and giving it a new twist.