Sheriff Tiraspol were “founded by KGB members”

Sheriff Tiraspol pulled off one of the biggest shocks in Champions League history last night when they defeated Real Madrid 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The Moldovan champions had to get through four qualifying rounds just to make it to the group stage, defeating the likes of Dinamo Zagreb and former European Cup winners Red Star Belgrade on the way.

On matchday one of the group stages, they defeated Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0 to sit top of a group also containing Real and Inter Milan.

Last night, Sebastien Thill’s incredible 89th minute volley sent shockwaves across Europe – and gives the Moldovan champions a serious chance of progression to the knockouts if they can win at least one of their final four games.

But what is the backstory behind the first ever Moldovan side to qualify for Europe’s premier competition?

The club were only founded in 1997 as Tiras Tiraspol, before rebranding itself simply as ‘Sheriff’ a year later.

Sheriff is a company in the unrecognised breakaway state of Transnistria, with Tiraspol a city within the state. The company acts as the club’s main sponsor, and was formed following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1993.

The Daily Star say that the club itself was reportedly founded by former members of the KGB, which acted as the main security agency for the Soviet Union between 1954 and 1991 before being dissolved.

The club’s players, officials and fans do not recognise the club as being from Moldova.

Sheriff Tiraspol do participate in Moldovan domestic competitions, and have won the National Division 19 times since the club was founded. They have also won the Moldovan Cup on 10 occasions, as well as being two-time champions of the now-defunct Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Cup.

How did the Spanish press react to Real Madrid’s defeat?

Sheriff’s defeat of Real Madrid last night understandably created headlines in Spain.

An article from news outlet Marca outlined how Real had been “locked up by Sheriff“.

In a separate article, they stated that Real are “living through a historic nightmare at home in Europe”, having not won in their last seven matches at the Bernabeu.

Mundo Deportivo, meanwhile, went with the front page “Arrested by the Sheriff”.

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