SCO Cup 2021 football tournament held to mark SCO's 20th anniversary
On 27 March 2021 the SCO Cup 2021 football tournament was held in Beijing under the slogan "For a world without drugs, terrorism and the pandemic" and was timed to coincide with the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. The athletic festival has also become a vibrant follow-up to International Nowruz Day, a symbol of peace, neighbourliness and mutual respect, which was amply celebrated at the SCO Secretariat on 19 March with support from the diplomatic missions of the SCO family nations.
Over the course of two months football enthusiasts — officials of the Foreign Ministry of the PRC, diplomats and personnel of national companies accredited in China — submitted their registration applications for the SCO championship. They also played friendlies in preparation for the tournament.
By the start of the tournament, some 12 teams, consisting of 96 players hailing from India, Kazakhstan, China, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Iran, Azerbaijan, and a combined team of Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Turkey called Friendship, and the SCO Secretariat team, were all set to take part.
High-ranking diplomats and SCO youth as well as footballers' family members (the youngest of them aged three months) were watching the games.
Speaking at the SCO Cup 2021 opening ceremony, SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov stressed that sport exchanges and competitions are an inalienable part of cultural cooperation, a crucial element of the uniting international agenda. SCO nations widely encourage practical interaction in sport. In 2019, an Agreement between the SCO Member States on Cooperation in Physical Fitness and Sports was signed on the sidelines at the Bishkek Summit. In the current year a number of significant sports events are to be held to mark the anniversary of our organisation, such as SCO international marathons on Issyk-Kul Lake, in Dushanbe and Kunmin, as well as the SCO Sports Games. The symbolism of these sporting events is enhanced by the fact that they are held in a year that the SCO countries' leaders declared The Year of SCO Culture.