REVENGE, IT HAS been said a million times before, is a dish best served cold, and that proved quite literally the case for the Tajikistani footballer Ahtam Hamroqulov after his electricity and water supply were cut off by his hometown officials as payback for him scoring against the local team.
Bizarre but true according to Hamroqulov, who claims he was forced to go without heating and hot showers for five days after scoring twice for Regar-TadAZ in their Tajikistan Cup semi-final victory against Vakhsh earlier this month.
Vakhsh is the official club of Qurgonteppa, where the striker was born, and he played for Vakhsh up until two years ago when he left for the team of the neighbouring town. The striker still lives in Qurgonteppa – which is located in south-western Tajikistan and is the capital of the Khatlon region – and returned to his house there after the match with two Regar-TadAZ team-mates only to be greeted by some unexpected guests. According to Hamroqulov, they introduced themselves as representatives of the city mayor’s office and claimed he had failed to pay his utility bills for a couple of months, owing more than $600 to the local authority.
“I always pay my utility bills, 100%, and I keep the receipts,” Hamroqulov told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, an international broadcaster serving central and eastern Europe. “So, I told them to take their bills and leave.” They did, but only after cutting off the electricity and water supply to the property Hamroqulov shares with his parents. They also reportedly stole the meters.
Mirzo Ashurov, the head of the city’s water and sewage department, has confirmed the incident took place but insists he does not “know who Hamroqulov is, and which team he plays for”, and that there was no personal agenda in regards to his power and water being cut off. “There are people who don’t pay their bills and we just issue them warnings,” Ashurov added.
Hamroqulov’s electricity and water was soon restored but, according to the player, only after he complained in person to the head of the Tajik Football Federation, Rustam Emomali, and, rather coincidentally, after Regard-TadAZ has lost the Tajikistan Cup final to Istiqlol.
There could be similar problems ahead for Hamroqulov given Regard-TadAZ host Vakhsh in a Vysshaya Liga fixture on 2 November. Should he score again, the forward may want to follow the example of Fabrizio Miccoli, who in February 2011 refused to celebrate after scoring for Palermo in their Serie A match with Lecce. Indeed, the captain was so upset at having struck against his hometown club that he declared himself unable to take to the field for the second half.
“It is true, I started crying and I couldn’t stop,” Miccoli admitted. “I cried on the pitch after the goal, I cried in the dressing room. Lecce is my team and I hurt them, it is like hurting an old friend.”
Hamroqulov could certainly do worse than burst into tears should he score against Vakhsh next month. A failure to do so may just lead to him having again to deal with unwanted guests and a cold house.
© Guardian News & Media Limited 2013
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