Dinamo Moscow’s 1945 Goodwill Tour of Britain

“The Russians are Coming”: Arrival 4th November 1945, Croydon. Two planes, appearing to be Douglas DC-3 Dakotas, approached the runway and touched down amidst a barrage of London sunshine, a characteristically mundane and everyday sight for an airport which based RAF Transport Command from 1944. These giant planes would ferry ammunition and vehicles from factory to operating unit throughout World War Two. However, on this day, the influx of these two planes was a prodigious and preternatural … [Read more...]

Lokomotiv and the Attempt to Solve Moscow’s Spectator Crisis

Over the past month, I have had the pleasure of visiting home games of all of Moscow’s major football clubs. From Spartak, CSKA and Lokomotiv in the Russian Football Premier League (RFPL) to Dinamo in the Football National League (FNL) and Torpedo in the Center Zone of the 2nd Division. One thing all the games had in common was that the attendances were painfully low. Whether it was the second game at the brand new Arena CSKA or a lower league Moscow derby between Torpedo and Saturn … [Read more...]

Failing the Kids – Russian Football’s Greatest Crime

Try to imagine the following.  An ambitious teacher-sports coach is embroiled in a child abuse scandal.  Defending his colleague and lifelong friend against accusations from dozens of boys from 12-20.  He gets punched out by another colleague who objects to the use of the term "whinging, attention-seeking scumbags" when describing the victims and their parents.  He knows what his friend has done, yet when the chance arrives to remove him from the vicinity of children, he supports an elderly … [Read more...]

A Union of One – Russian Footballers Union

  The original (shorter form) of this article appeared in print 06.06.16, this online edition includes relevant links. Some weeks ago the proverbial cat was put among the pigeons. As is known to anyone who can a) read English, b) watch Russian football or c) read the many reports from FIFPro on outrageous crimes against local footballers, all is not well with the wacky world of Russian football. Yet there is far more that goes on that the wider world and authorities don't know … [Read more...]

Zenit – Spartak: The Capital Calling

There are few cities more contradictory than St. Petersburg. Its uncanny likeness to a major European town – a product of the travels of its founder Peter I to the cities of Manchester and Leipzig to study their structures – seems to almost mock its status as the site of the Bolshevik October Revolution, the event that sheathed a Communist curtain between Russia and the west. Nevertheless St. Petersburg’s markedly severe 313-year history seems to seep through its glorious architecture and … [Read more...]

Nikolai Starostin: From Hero to Gulag and Back Again

This is the second and last part of Vincent Tanguy's mini series about Spartak founder and Soviet football legend Nikolai Starostin. You can read part one here.   One man was going to send the life of Nikolai Starostin, his brothers and all his relatives deep into the dark: Lavrenti Beria. A key figure of Soviet power from 1938 to 1953, this man born in Georgia remains sadly famous for his cruelty. In 1938, Stalin appointed him head of the NKVD, the secret Police of the Soviet … [Read more...]

Behind Enemy Lines – Away Games In Russia

It’s been just over two months since I moved back to Russia. In the heart of winter, there are a myriad things to suffer in its capital city, Moscow. Biting cold temperatures and bureaucracy mean that a simple Englishman’s pride can take many a knock in the taxing post-holiday months. But each nagging obstacle in the motherland is made a little easier to withstand with the knowledge that the first days of spring not only bring a mildness to Moscow’s heavy air, but also the end of the winter … [Read more...]

The Sharapova Case – Is Russian Football Next?

Monday, one of the most famous tennis players in the world, Maria Sharapova, announced that she failed a doping test during the Australian Open tournament earlier this year. She is now facing a four-year ban for taking the drug meldonium, which was included on the list of prohibited drugs on January 1, 2016. Sharapova is the latest athlete from the former Soviet Union to be caught for using the drug. Meldonium is known to be popular in the post-Soviet space, which the list of names caught … [Read more...]

Tarasov Becomes Part of UEFA’s Political Problem

It was hoped that this match would be able to unite two sets of people among the current diplomatic crisis between Russia and Turkey. However, unfortunately several inflammatory incidents took place around the game. Firstly stones were thrown at a bus of Lokomotiv Moscow fans and several Twitter accounts associated with Russian football were abused and threatened with violence.           The main incident to capture the headlines though has … [Read more...]

Travel Report: A Zenit Fan in Gent

The Champions League match between the Belgian champions from Gent and their Russian counterparts Zenit had a dramatic prelude, when the mayor of Gent banned all Zenit fans from the match in fear of hooliganism. This decision was later revoked, and in the end, the fans from St. Petersburg were allowed to both enter Gent as well as watch the game. A victory would have made Zenit the first Russian side to win all six of their Champions League games since Spartak in the 1995/1996 season, so despite … [Read more...]