All You Need to Know about Russian Football

All You Need to Know about Russian Football

World Cup in Brazil kicked off and ExploRussia’s team feels like talking about sports:) No matter if you are a crazy football fan or you simply enjoy watching handsome guys kicking a ball, this post will guide you through the basics of Russian football.

Russian football team


Is football a popular sport in Russia?

Yes! Russians have always been huge fans of football, also back in Soviet times. Today, football is the number one sport in the country, just before ice-hockey.

Russians get excited especially about the World Cup but they also passionately cheer for their teams competing in the UEFA European Championship and, of course, the Russian Football Premier League.

But Russians do not only watch football, they also play it actively. There are approximately 1,5 million Russians in different football clubs and teams all over the country. It’s more than the whole population of Estonia!

Unfortunately, football hooliganism has also become very active in Russia, and Russian hooligans are among the most notorious in the world. Their violence reinforced concerns about 2018 World Cup and it’s still an open question, how the aggression in Russian stadiums during the World Cup can be avoided.


shouting for Russia


Which are the best Russian football teams?

The most successful football teams in Russia are: CSKA Moscow, Spartak Moscow, Lokomotiv Moscow, Zenit St. Petersburg and Dynamo Moscow. Four times Moscow? Yep, in fact, there are altogether 6 clubs from Moscow in the national Premier League.

Who are the best Russian football players?

Probably the best known Russian player is Andrei Arshavin, who plays for Zenit Saint Petersburg. Unfortunately, despite his great international play, he has never been able to make it to the World Cup with the Russian National Team.

Among the top 10 Russian football players of all time we also find: Lev Yashin (he was so good that the World Cup award for the tournament’s best goalkeeper is named after him), Valentin Ivanov (a leading goalscorer), Rinat Dasayev, Igor Netto, Albert Shesternyov, Eduard Streltsov, Valeri Karpin (he scored the first goal for the Russian national team after the fall of the Soviet Union), Igor Akinfeev and Roman Pavlyuchenko.

Which are the main football competitions in Russia?

The most important national football competition is The Russian Football Premier League, currently called SOGAZ Russian Football Championship. 16 teams take part in the competition, and CSKA Moscow is the current champion.

We also have The Russian Cup (held annually for professional football clubs), the Amateur Football League Cup and cups played on a federal level.

The size of Russia has also some implications on football.

Due to our huge territory, sometimes teams from the western part of the country have to travel across several time zones to play with a team from, for example, Siberia, which results in discomfort, jet lag and… lost matches. At least it is a common excuse 🙂

Is Russia good in football?

Two football fans after the match:

– I’m really disappointed with the game. I could hardly see anything from my seat.

– And what should I say? I saw everything too well!

Yes… Mean jokes about football are very popular in our country, which only shows a lack of faith in Russian teams. Maybe we are not the best, but we do have some achievements. Russia’s national team qualified for three World Cups (1994, 2002, 2014) and four UEFA European Championships.

The Russian League is regarded as the 7th strongest league in Europe, based on UEFA’s rankings, and it’s is rapidly regaining its former strength because of huge sponsorship deals. There are more and more foreigners playing in the Russian league, and they are often the ones who score the most.

This year’s World Cup we are in Group H alongside Algeria, Belgium, and South Korea, and we of course aim to at least qualify out of the group. Support your beloved team, but do us a favor and cheer for Russians too!

Fortunately, Russia is going to host World Cup 2018, so even if we don’t make it to the finals in Brazil, we get another chance in four years 🙂

Enjoy the World Cup in Brazil and visit Russia for the World Cup in 2018. Or come even earlier to see our Premier League live! ExploRussia can arrange tickets for any game and organize a special sport-themed tour just for you!

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