Problems with the Trans-Siberian Football League

The Russian Football National League (FNL) has been in place since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, unchanged from 1994 and remains one of the toughest logistical and fiscal challenges in world football. The Soviet Top Division and First Division were combined into the Russian Top Division in 1992, with the new Second Tier regionalised into a Centre, East and West. However, this model was scrapped in 1994 in favour of a 20-team single-region division we see today. The Russian Top Division … [Read more...]

RFN Friday Quiz: Football in Moscow

It is Friday once again, and as usual that means that you get the opportunity to prove just how much, or little, you know about Russian football. With the CSKA - Spartak Derby coming this weekend, the focus of this quiz is on football in the capital of Russia. But enough talk, it is time to test your knowledge. Let us know your score, either by tweeting us or simply comment on this post.   … [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...]

How Football Mirrors Society – Football in Russia on Election Day

One of the most commonly used clichés about sport is that it mirrors the society in which it is played, whether it is regarding xenophobia, cheating or the pursuit of excellence. Therefore, on the day of the Russian Duma election (Sunday September 18), I decided to head to a football match in Moscow to learn more about the society the game mirrored. For anyone unaware of the day's events, it would however have been impossible to guess that Russia stood in front of an election for the national … [Read more...]

‘Strelec’ in the GULAG: Eduard Streltsov’s Incarceration and Survival in the Vyatlag Archipelago

Curse of the Råsunda Råsunda Stadium in Stockholm – for many Russian football fans a name synonymous with mythic tales of what might have been for the national sport, and their star player, Eduard Anatoliyevich Streltsov the “Russian Pelé”. Like so many other would-be football superstars he was tragically robbed of his career and could even be recalled as the “Russian Duncan Edwards”. The 1958 World Cup was the watershed moment in Brazilian Pelé’s career, on 29 June the then … [Read more...]

10 years of turmoil – The latest rise and fall of Torpedo Moscow

Once battling the powerhouses of European football on a regular basis, Torpedo Moscow now find themselves rooted to the basement of Russian league football. Twenty-three years previously the iconic Moscow club found themselves in the UEFA Cup competition where the club achieved a respectable quarter-final place. Torpedo successfully sank giants such as Manchester United en-route to their success in 1992/1993, now they are battling to finance an away game due to the club's shocking financial … [Read more...]

The Red Devils In Russia

The game between Manchester United and CSKA Moscow on Wednesday 21 October in Champions League Group B comes exactly six years since the two met at the same stage of the tournament in the 2009-10 season. The game will be the eighth time United have taken on a team from Russia in European competition with only a single victory against five draws and a loss from their previous seven meetings. Here, we look at the Russian heroes who have stopped the three-time champions of Europe in their … [Read more...]

Now or Never for Konstantin Bazelyuk

In December, 2013 the 20 year old CSKA Moscow striker Konstantin Bazelyuk won the Best Young Football Player in Russia award, as he went in the footsteps of teammates Igor Akinfeev, Alan Dzagoev and Georgy Schennikov who had all won the prize before him. The award came after the young striker got his break through for the Muscovites in the autumn, and in March, 2014 Bazelyuk was even called up as a part of Fabio Capello's provisional squad for Russia's friendly against Armenia in Krasnodar. Even … [Read more...]

Dmitri Kharine – Chelsea’s First Russian

Born in Moscow in 1968, Dmitri Kharine started his career in Russia’s capital with Torpedo Moscow. Originally starting out at their ‘Football School of Youth’, the goalkeeper was later promoted to their first team. He made his debut in 1982 and won his first competition whilst with Torpedo. In 1986, the goalkeeper was part of the squad that won the USSR Cup against Shakhtar Donetsk. During his time at Torpedo, Kharine featured at international youth level for the Soviet Union, and in 1985, … [Read more...]

Photo Report: Muscovite Derby in the Russian Cup

I am a big fan of the Grassroots Project, where the photographer Sergey Novikov travels across Russia to take pictures of the most beautiful stadiums and most infamous amateur football teams. One does however not necessarily have to travel long distances to find interesting football venues. Not with a capital like Moscow, a city that has an incredible diversity regarding the beautiful game. The city has lot of both professional and amateur clubs with their own stadiums spread out around the huge … [Read more...]