TIRASPOL, Moldova—On a temperate spring evening at Sheriff Stadium on the outskirts of Tiraspol, the 1,500 or so supporters in attendance are treated to a crisp sunset. It lends an ethereal glow to the otherwise colorless action taking place on the field below. With 17 league titles in 19 seasons, things have become repetitive for fans of FC Sheriff Tiraspol.
The soccer club plays in the de facto separatist state of Transnistria, a tiny strip of land located on the eastern bank of Moldova’s Dniester River. Since 1990, Transnistria has governed itself independently of the Moldovan capital, Chisinau, fortified by a permanent Russian military presence and annual financial aid from Moscow…
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