The Russian football team has become the champion of the IIS-THY International Football League in Turkey by defeating the British team, the champion of the past three years.
The International Football League is a football tournament which has been organized for the fifth year with the participation of around 200 foreign representatives in Turkey, giving them the opportunity to take their diplomatic struggle to the football pitch. The International Interaction Society (IIS) and Turkish Airlines (THY) co-sponsor the event. Football teams from every embassy made up of ambassadors, chargés d'affaires, diplomats and military attachés participate.
This year's champion, Russia, received the championship cup at a ceremony in Ankara amid strong interest from officials from foreign missions. The Italian team came third in the tournament and was followed by the joint team of Macedonia-Kosovo.
An example of sportsmanship took place at the cup ceremony as British Ambassador to Ankara David Norman Reddaway was the one who gave the cup to the Russian team while the Russian team cut the championship cake with the British team. In addition to Reddaway, the husband of Kosovan President Astrit Kuçi, many ambassadors, attachés and embassy undersecretaries attended the cup ceremony.
Foreign diplomats are very pleased with the organization of such an event. Former captain of the United Kingdom and Ireland's football team Dan Wilson said: “The quality of the football being played and the level of respect on and off the pitch have made this tournament a wonderful experience.” He added that he is looking forward to seeing the new season.
Former Norwegian team captain Markus Teir also voiced his appreciation for the event, saying: “It was a wonderful league; it was a wonderful season in a wonderful atmosphere. Matches were very entertaining throughout the league and we witnessed a perfect closing ceremony.”
The Russian team's captain, Andrey Losev, said the tournament is a large event organized to make it possible for the diplomats to do sports and enjoy themselves at the same time.
“Although we seem to be playing to win from time to time, we actually play for fun. It is a great opportunity to spend time with people from other nations,” he said.