A star-studded line-up of former international football greats headed by Diego Maradona has played a one-off game in Grozny, Chechnya.The match, played between an all-star side and a team of Russian and Chechen players captained by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, was played to open a new 30,000-seat stadium in the war-torn republic.
As well as Argentine captain Maradona, other greats of yesteryear who took to the field included former Liverpool stars Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman, Franco Baresi, Luis Figo and former France goalkeeper Fabien Barthez.
Kadyrov scored twice to lead his side to a 5-2 win over the visiting all-stars, as Chechnya celebrated the opening of the new stadium which was built to replace the one that was destroyed when Kadyrov’s father – former Chechen president Akhmad Kadyrov – was killed by a bomb blast in 2004.
Critics have dismissed the game – which began at 11pm local time on Wednesday – as a public relations stunt designed to deflect attention away from the human rights abuses that have taken place under Kadyrov’s rule, which began in 2007.
The stadium will be the home ground for local club Terek Grozny, as football in the republic begins to build a profile.
In January, Dutch legend Ruud Gullit was appointed as Terek’s manager.