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Azerbaijan: Club in Exile Wins Premier League Championship

qarabagTwenty years after the signing of a Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire agreement, Agdam remains a ghost town, its battle-scarred buildings steadily crumbling, its streets being relentlessly reclaimed by nature. But in an athletic quirk, a football club representing the town has been crowned the champion of Azerbaijan’s Premier League.

When the 2013-14 season concluded in mid-May, FC Karabakh Agdam stood atop the 10-team standings, five points ahead of the second-place finisher Inter Baku. It marked the second regular season championship for Agdam, the first since 1993, the year the town was overrun by Armenian forces during the hottest phase of the Karabakh war.

Agdam is still unable to play home games in its hometown; the area remains under the control of Armenian forces and is used as a buffer zone. Only a few hundred farmers inhabit the surrounding area. Peace talks that could potentially pave the way for the resettlement of Agdam remain stalemated, with no visible chance of a breakthrough in the foreseeable future.

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