Frequently, spectators express anger towards the referees during a game, but sometimes this anger escalates to the point where people get hurt. However, it is very rare for such incidents to occur in a sport that involves a goat carcass.
Let’s set the scene in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, on Thursday, during the final game of the President’s Cup. This was a significant event that took place on the country’s Independence Day, with around 30,000 spectators in attendance, including President Sadyr Japarov. The home team, Dostuk, unfortunately lost to the visitors from Talas, Yntymak, with a score of 2-1. However, this resulted in disgruntled fans storming the field, expressing their dissatisfaction with the referee’s decisions. They resorted to throwing stones, leading to approximately 100 people requiring medical treatment. One police officer was also taken to the hospital, and 25 individuals were ultimately arrested, according to a report from the Kyrgyzstan news site Kloop on Friday.
Talas Begaliev, the president of the sport’s federation, later placed blame on the riotous behavior on spectators who he believed to be non-genuine fans. He stated, “What happened after the game was done by spectators who do not understand sport, have not seen anything, and have a very low level of culture.” He further added that these individuals not only tarnished the sport of kok-boru but also brought shame to Kyrgyz culture.
Now, you may be wondering, what is kok-boru? It is a form of polo where the ball is an 80-pound goat carcass, specifically one without its head and legs. Horses and riding hold important cultural significance in Kyrgyzstan, dating back centuries. In kok-boru, a game with origins among nomads, two teams of four players on horseback compete to pick up the goat carcass, carry it down the field, and throw it into a ring that serves as the goal. This sport is highly physical and has been compared to rugby more than traditional polo. Players will go to great lengths to wrestle the goat away from opponents using any means necessary. Variations of kok-boru are also played in neighboring countries such as Kazakhstan and Afghanistan.
Taking a more philosophical stance, Kamchybek Tashiev, the chairman of the State Committee for National Security, expressed that kok-boru is ultimately just a sport and a game. He emphasized that in sports, there are winners and losers, and it is crucial not to let anger consume the losers. Tashiev believes that both victory and defeat should be appreciated.