Not long ago, Moldova was one state within the Soviet Union. Today, the tiny country on the border of the European Union itself encompasses the semi-autonomous statelet of Transnistria in the east and Turkic-speaking region of Gagauzia in the south.
Transnistria’s ambitions for independence have led to militarized conflict with the Moldovan state. Yet Transnistria’s football teams continue to play in Moldova’s premier league, with the breakaway state’s FC Sheriff Tiraspol habitually beating Moldovan rivals.
Moldovan national football provides an arena where competing identities battle it out in studs and team colours. Clubs from across the polarised state literally cross borders for Sunday matches on a shared pitch, meeting in a common passion. Fans who would never otherwise traverse these geographical and ideological divides find themselves side-by-side on the bench. Captured on camera, their moments of dialogue and aggression reflect the wider truces and tensions of a country struggling to maintain an uncertain peace rooted in a fraught past.