Sport in Azerbaijan has ancient roots, and even now, both traditional and modern sports are still practiced.
18 November 2013| Last updated on 27 June 2017
Sports in Azerbaijan have ancient roots, and even now, both traditional and modern sports are still practiced. Freestyle wrestling has been traditionally regarded as Azerbaijan's national sport, however today, the most popular sports in Azerbaijan are football and chess.
Wrestling remains a historically important sport of Azerbaijan and often even referred to as its national sport. Both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, particularly freestyle, are popular in Azerbaijan.
With a history of great wrestlers, such as Namig Abdullayev, Farid Mansurov, Rovshan Bayramov, and Mariya Stadnik, Azerbaijan is considered among the elite nations in this sport. Azerbaijan Wrestling Federation was established in 1959 as part of the USSR Wrestling Federation. After Azerbaijan Wrestling Federation was established in 1993, and officially admitted to the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles at FILA Headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland in the same year.
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Azerbaijan is known as one of the chess superpowers and despite the collapse of the Soviet Union, chess is still extremely popular. Notable chess players of Azerbaijan includes Teimour Radjabov, Shahriyar Mammadyarov, Vugar Gashimov and Zeinab Mamedyarova.
Azerbaijan has also hosted many international chess tournaments and competitions and became European Team Chess Championship winners in 2009. In 2009, Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev issued an order to improve development of chess in the Azerbaijan from 2009 to 2014 period.
Football is the most popular sports in Azerbaijan. The most internationally known players are Rashad Sadygov and Vagif Javadov, who played for PFC Neftchi Baku, FK Karabakh, Kayserispor, Kocaelispor and Azerbaijan national football team. Other famous Azerbaijani players include Zaur Ramazanov, Kazbek Tuayev, Nazim Suleymanov, Vali Gasimov, Gurban Gurbanov, Vidadi Rzayev, Zaur Tagizade and Mahmud Gurbanov.
The 1960s are considered the Golden Age for Azerbaijani football, as they produced great players like Anatoliy Banishevskiy, Alakbar Mammadov and football referee Tofik Bakhramov, who's most famous for being a linesman who helped to award a goal for England in the 1966 World Cup Final between England and West Germany.
The top football teams in Azerbaijan are FK Baku, PFC Neftchi Baku, FK Karabakh and Khazar Lankaran. On March 19, 2010, Azerbaijan won the bid to host the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup.