Amir Natcho – Russia’s Next Superstar?

When the 18 year old Russian Amir Natcho moved to FC Barcelona’s famous youth academy, La Masia, before this season, he sought to continue a long and proud tradition of Russian midfielders in Spain’s La Liga. This tradition started in the 1990s when geniuses like Aleksandr Mostovoi and Valery Karpin impressed Spanish football fans. These days Villarreal’s Denis Cheryshev, despite his position on the wing, is keeping the tradition alive until we, hopefully, see Natcho in La Liga within the next … [Read more...]

CSKA Fans Fight Back – Interview With #CSKAFansAgainstRacism Campaign

CSKA Moscow’s ultras have long had a reputation for violent and racist behavior. Last season, the ultras drew unwanted attention to the Russian champions in the Champions League twice. First, they were caught yelling racial slurs at Manchester City’s Ivorian midfielder Yaya Touré, leading UEFA to punish them by closing the ultra’s stand in CSKA’s stadium Arena Khimki. Piara Powar, the executive director of FARE (Football Against Racism Europe), tried to convince UEFA to give CSKA a full … [Read more...]

Mark Ryutin: From Big-City Russia to the Faroe Islands

In the beginning of July, a Danish football website wrote that First Division club Skive IK had a Russian goalkeeper on trial. When I read the article I was surprised to see a familiar name--Mark Ryutin. Ryutin plays for Skala in the top league in Faroe Islands, but he was allowed a trip to Denmark to chase a contract in a better league. Mark Ryutin's football career is very unusual, and that is why several Russian sport sites and newspapers have written about his adventures in the Faroe Islands … [Read more...]

Yura Movsisyan: “Spartak fans are at a different level, just like the club”

It's been quite the year for Spartak forward, Yura Movsisyan. After making the move to Moscow last winter from another Russian club, FC Krasnodar, Movsisyan has bagged a pair of hat-tricks, scored 22 goals in 32 appearances, and emerged as one of the young guns on a rising Armenia side. Spartak, meanwhile, are 3rd in the league, just three points behind Zenit and Lokomotiv. Though he'll miss the final two matches of 2013 due to knee surgery, the 26 year old was on fire all autumn, racking up … [Read more...]

James Appell: “Russian and English football have the same problem”

If you follow Russian football, you probably know who James Appell is, given there aren't too many foreign journalists covering and interested in Russian football. There have been interviews with him in the Russian press (he's well known in Russia). Reading it, I always thought it would be great to talk to him myself, and, probably, have an interview. The years passed, and, in the end, I found the opportunity. I heard he was coming to visit the Volga - Spartak match in Nizhny Novgorod, and … [Read more...]

Interview with Ibrahima Baldé: “Kuban Krasnodar is making history”

Kuban's Senegalese striker, Ibra Balde, talked with RFN about his first year in Russia, Kuban Krasnodar, Senegal national team his past in Spain and Argentina and the case Denisov. Question: How are you doing with the cold weather? Answer: Winter is always hard to deal with. However, the problem is not the cold but the fact that we have to play matches under zero degrees on fields in bad conditions. When we went to Volga in March, the grass seemed cement, it was awful. At least, this … [Read more...]

Going Underground: Conversation with a FCNN Ultra

Conversation with a FC Nizhny Novgorod Ultra I walk into one of the cafes in the center of Nizhny Novgorod. The first thing I feel when entering the place is a mixture of two smells:  beer and cigarettes. One big TV on the wall is showing a replay of yesterday's Dynamo Kyiv-Spartak match and two already-drunk old gentleman are discussing the game. "There can't be a better place for an ultra to give an interview," I think to myself. I'm here to meet Maxim, a name I'll give to him because … [Read more...]

Conversation with Spartak Fanatic Amir Khuslyutdinov

Amir Khuslyutdinov, aka "The Professor", has been involved in Spartak fan support and hooligan culture since 1977, only a few years after the first organized fan movements in the USSR took root. Still active in the Spartak community, Amir's 35 years of football fanaticism span several generations, from the twilight years of the Soviet Union to economic ruin in the early 90s to the more and more Westernized society of the 21st century. Khuslyutdinov talked with me about football hooligans' … [Read more...]