Editorial: Structural Problems are the Reasons for Russia’s Early Exit

Three games, one victory and a quick exit. That was the result of Russia’s first major tournament on home soil, the Confederations Cup. The quick exit naturally let to discussions about who was to blame for the failure of once again not making it out the group stage, but head coach of Sbornaya, Stanislav Cherchesov, was quick to end these discussions. “This is my mistake,” he said in the press conference after the final game against Mexico, which was lost 2-1, and continued: “I will take it upon … [Read more...]

Naturalisation and Foreign Player Limits in Russian Football

In the last couple of years, Russian football has seen a huge increase of naturalised players in the country’s top division, as well as the first ever naturalised players in the national team. Although this was a controversial decision by the Russian Football Union (RFU), what really caught many people's eye was how these players were able to obtain citizenship. Lokomotiv Moscow goalkeeper Marinato Guilherme was the first non-Russian to play for the national team, and although many Russian … [Read more...]

Why the World Cup 2018 in Russia Is Our Last Chance for a Dialogue

Disappointment. Helplessness. Anger. These were the feelings after watching BBC’s “Russia’s Hooligan Army”, as we perfectly understood that this story will be widely shared and watched among people who are considering coming to Russia for the World Cup in 2018. As Russian football fans, we believe that the World Cup 2018 in our country is a unique chance for all of us to build bridges, not walls. That is why we want to focus on certain constructive measures to overcome the widening gap of … [Read more...]

The FNL Cup – And Why It Matters

While fans back home shiver in temperatures well below freezing, the traditional winter break tournament featuring the majority of Russia’s second tier teams, the FNL Cup, kicked off today in the mild Cypriot sunshine. For most participants, it is their second or even third warm-weather training camp as they gear up towards the resumption of domestic league duty in March, and the 16-team event is ever so gradually edging into more than just a relaxing holiday. It is far from the finished … [Read more...]

5 Things We Learned About Russian Football in October

1: Slutsky’s seat is heating up Last month I wrote that Leonid Slutsky had lost his aura of invincibility, now things have got even worse for the CSKA Moscow head coach. September saw the Army Men lose both Alan Dzagoev and Roman Eremenko, both key players, and Slutsky has obviously struggled to find a plan B without his two midfielders. The former Sbornaya boss has tried to rotate between Bibras Natcho, Astemir Gordyushenko and Aleksandr Golovin, but with no success. In October, CSKA fell … [Read more...]

Russian Election – Football Awaits a Tsar

I feel like a veteran now. In 2009 I worked on Sergey Kuzmin's 2010 campaign for election to the post of President of the Russian Football Union (RFU) and in 2011-12 was with him when the regions anointed Nikolai Tolstykh to highest position in Russian football. Now it's my 3rd election and I'll again be involved, though this time purely in a journalistic capacity. And of all three, this will be the most interesting. And what's better, what happens around this day of days in Russian football, … [Read more...]

Big Challenges Awaits Cherchesov

After weeks of speculation and waiting, Vitaly Mutko finally presented Russia’s next national team coach earlier this week. The choice fell on 52-year-old Stanislav Cherchesov, who led Legia Warsaw to the Polish double last season, and he has signed a two-year contract with the Russian Football Union. The Ossetian-born coach won the job ahead of Kurban Berdyev, Sergey Semak and Aleksandr Borodyuk, who all had meetings with Mutko as well, and the goals set for Cherchesov and Sbornaya are enormous … [Read more...]

Friendly Game to Help Restore Russian-Turkish Relations

After months of hostility, the governments of Russia and Turkey recently began normalizing their relationship and restoring the ties that were destroyed when a Russian jet intruded Turkish airspace in November, with Turkish troops later shooting it down and killing the pilot. As proof of the restoration of relations, a friendly match between the two countries’ national teams has been arranged for the end of this month, and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s President, is expected to invite his … [Read more...]

Russia in Free Fall on the FIFA Ranking List

Looking at FIFA’s so-called Coca-Cola World Ranking of the best national teams in the world from a Russian point of view is depressing. It is no secret that Russia is far from the 9th place they occupied following the 2008 and 2012 Euros, and even further from the 5th place occupied in 1995 when the national team won eight of their 10 national team games. That Russia is currently ranked 38th is however both disappointing and poor, and exemplifies the state of Sbornaya. After updating the … [Read more...]

Roberto Mancini to Lead Russia?

Ever since Leonid Slutsky resigned as head coach of the Russian national team after a disastrous European Championship, several major names, both domestic and foreign, have entered the rumour mill. On Wednesday another name took the stage, as a source within the Russian Football Union (RFU) revealed that the RFU are considering the current Inter boss Roberto Mancini to lead Sbornaya. “The Russian football Union is considering Mancini’s candidacy to head the national football squad,” the source … [Read more...]