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.
To conclude his welcoming speech, the SCO Seccretary-General expressed appreciation to all the tournament participants for supporting the sports initiative and wished the teams good luck.
During competition the players displayed stamina, team spirit, friendship and tolerance, all of which are consonant with the Shanghai spirit.
Following the competition, the Tajik side, which chairs the SCO, awarded a Kazakhstan player for the best goal in the tournament.
The organisers of the tournament gave the Best Forward and Best Quarterback awards to Friendship team members, while the Best Goalkeeper award was given to a Team Russia player.
SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov and SCO Ambassadors to China handed out to Team Russia members, who took first place in the SCO Cup 2021 tournament, with gold medals that featured an emblem of the SCO 20th anniversary. The captain of the team was presented with the rolling trophy.
The combined Friendship team of Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Turkey won the second place after a hard-fought and fair semi-final match.
The third place winner was Belarus. Both silver and bronze winners were given medals with SCO anniversary symbols.
The sports event was organised by the SCO Secretariat with support from the Chinese Sports Company of International Economic Cooperation, Shang He Trade and Culture House, and SCOLAR Network youth platform.