Russian Football on the Road to the 2018 World Cup

The national team of Russia performs successfully  during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Stage. The national team of Russia performs successfully during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Stage.

The Football Union of Russia (FUR) is the All-Russia public sport organization. The activities of the FUR are directed, first of all, at the development and popularization of football in the Russian Federation. FUR is the only organization recognized by FIFA and UEFA, which controls the development of football in Russia.

Nikolay Tolstykh
President of the Football Union of Russia

Now the number of people in the Russian Federation systematically involved in football exceeds 2.2 million, which is more than 1.5% of the total population of the country (in 2006 this indicator was less than 1%). The number of children's and youth football schools and football units also grows as well as the number of children training in the abovementioned schools. More than 40 thousand of teams regularly take part in grassroots children's competitions. More than 20 thousand of amateur teams play every year in the championships, competitions and other Russian tournaments. The number of football stadiums in Russia exceeds 2,500 arenas. There are about 18,000 football fields in this country.

There are 106 professional football clubs and three professional football leagues (Russian Football Premier League, National Football League and Professional Football League) in Russia. Up to 20 national teams (A national, youth, junior, women's, beach and futsal), which participate in the official competitions held by FIFA and UEFA, are honored to represent Russia on the international level.

History and Modern Achievements

The birthdate of football in Russia is considered to be October 24, 1897, the first football match indicated in documents was held between the teams of St. Petersburg Group of Sports Fans (Sport) and Vasileoostrovsky Society of Football Players.

The history of the All-Russian Football Union started with the foundation meeting in St. Petersburg on January 19, 1912. 80 years later they founded the All-Russian public sports organization the Football Union of Russia, which after the USSR collapse took the functions of football governance in Russia and acquired its membership in FIFA and UEFA.

The main goals of the FUR are the following:

  • development and popularization (promotion) of football in the Russian Federation (professional, grassroots, women's, futsal, beach, veterans', youth and all other kinds of football);
  • organization and holding of sports football events;
  • formation and training of the national football teams of the Russian Federation;
  • enhancement of the role of football in comprehensive and harmonious development of personality, in the improvement of the people's health and development of the healthy way of life.

For the last two decades since the foundation of the FUR, Russian football has covered a long way, marked with different achievements. The national team of Russia was two times in the final tournament of the FIFA World Cup and four times – in the final tournament of the UEFA European Football Championship. In 2008 our football team for the first time in the newest history won a medal of the continental championship – a bronze one of EURO-2008. In 2006 youth (players born in 1989) won the 
UEFA U-17 European Championship. Russian clubs CSKA and Zenit won three European Cups – two UEFA Cups (2005 and 2008) and UEFA Super Cup (2008).

The FUR is successfully developing other types of football as well. National women's team of Russia reached the quarterfinal of the World Cup twice; Women's U-19 team won UEFA Women's U-19 European Championship in 2005. Club Zvezda-2005 became runners-up of UEFA Women's Champions League in 2009. The national futsal team of Russia became European Champion in 1999, a finalist of the FIFA Futsal World Cup. Futsal Clubs Dynamo and Sinara were winners of the UEFA Futsal Cup in 2007 and 2008. Finally, the national beach soccer team won the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in 2011, it won Beach Soccer European Cup and European League twice each.

FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and FUR President Nikolay Tolstykh during the official meeting in Zurich.

Sports Results 2012

The last year was rich in football events. It contained both bright and highlight victories of Russian national teams, and alongside with that bitter defeats as it was the case in the EURO 2012 final tournament.

The second half of 2012 brought to Russian fans much more positive emotions than the first one. Thus, the national team of Russia is steadily leading in the tournament table of the qualifying group for FIFA World Cup 2014, U-21 and women's national teams got into the final stage of EURO-2013, our boys and girls have qualified to the three elite rounds out of four current 
UEFA youth competitions, and national beach soccer team of Russia won Intercontinental Cup.

National Team

Having won four matches at the start of the FIFA World Cup qualifying group (including winning over the main rival in the struggle for the first place in Group F – Portugal), players under guidance of Fabio Capello made a considerable contribution in the chance to play at the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil. By the restart of the qualifying campaign in March 2013 Russians have 5 points of advantage over the nearest competitors – Portuguese and Israelis, which makes it possible to look into our future with enough optimism.

National U-21 Team

National U-21 team of Russia won its qualifying group and on the basis of the result of the two play-off matches vs Czech Republic has qualified to the final tournament UEFA European U-21 Championship for the first time since 1998. The final tournament will be held in the period between June 5–18, 2013 in Israel.

Our opponents in Group B at the final tournament of UEFA European U-21 Championship 2013 are Spain, Germany and the Netherlands – the teams, which won this age category tournaments in the recent 4 years. However, U-21 team of Russia will do its best to have a good fight versus these award-winning opponents.

U-19 Youth National Team

U-19 youth national team of Russia (players born in or after 1994) was well in the first round of U-19 European Championship qualifying tournament. The decisive battle to be qualified into the final tournament is ahead of them. In order to be among 8 best teams of Europe Russians have to be first in their group with Italy, Turkey and Ukraine. Native surrounding should help our team to reach the ambitious goal as the elite round of the U-19 qualification will be held on May 22–27, 2013 in Russia.

At this age category national team of Russia participated in the European Championship final tournament in 2007 and before that – in 1994 and 2000.

U-17 Youth National Team

Their first qualifying round under the auspices of UEFA our juniors (players born in or after 1996) passed with dignity. Despite a painful defeat from the Czech Republic at the start of the mini tournament, young football players found the strength to overcome the situation. Having won two remaining games the Russians qualified to the spring round of the competition. Now on March 23–28, 2013 the team will have to play in the elite round of the qualification. For the only slot at the final tournament of the European Championship Russians will play on the Foggy Albion against England, Slovenia and Portugal.

At this age group the national team of Russia participated in the EURO only once in 2006, when our team won the tournament.

Women's National Team

Russian women football players also paved the way to the final stage of the European Championship 2013 through the play-offs, in which our girls defeated the team of Austria.

The final tournament of the European Championship will be held on July 10–28, 2013 in Sweden. The competitors at the group stage will be the teams of France, England and Spain. The team of Russia will be playing in the final stage only for the fourth time in its history after its performance at the tournaments in 1997, 2001 and 2009.

U-19 Women's National Team

In the autumn qualifying round of the European Championship our U-19 women's national team passed their exam in the match against Sweden, the present champions of the continent, with the score 0:0. In spring Russian girls will compete with not less serious rivals. On April 4–9, 2013 in Belgium Russian female players will play against the teams of France, Switzerland and with the hosts of the mini tournament.

In 2005 the team won the EURO; in 2004 and 2006 
it won bronze medals, in the same time it took part in FIFA U-19 (U-20) Women's World Championships, both time reaching quarter-finals. Russian girls participated for the last time in the final stage in the season of 2010/11.

U-17 Women's National Team

Our girls (players born in or after 1996) are the only ones, who didn't manage to get to the second round of the competition season 2012/13. Regardless of two winnings in autumn, a heavy defeat from the leader of the European ranking ruined all hopes to continue the struggle to get into the final tournament of the EURO. In spring the team is planning to participate in the UEFA consolation tournament.

Beach Soccer National Team

After the triumphant 2011 Russian beach soccer players gave the fans another successful season, during which they qualified to the final tournament of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2013 and won two titles – Cup of Europe and Intercontinental Cup. At the Intercontinental Cup final our team was well in winning over the team of Brazil – 7 : 4. Repeated world champions were defeated by our team in the third final in a row.

In 2013 national team of Russia will be defending their title of the world strongest team – the regular FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup tournament will be held on September 18–28, 2013 on Tahiti.

Futsal National Teams

After the futsal national team of Russia won silver medals of the European Championship in February 2012 it was called one of the main contenders to the FIFA Futsal World Cup medals in Thailand. But already in the quarter final the fate brought the Russian players against Spaniards, to whom our futsal players had lost before in the decisive match of the EURO. The team didn't manage to take revenge at the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2012.

U-21 futsal national futsal team took part in the international tournament Petersburg Autumn, where they got bronze medals.

Women's futsal national team played with at a very good level at the experimental FIFA Women's Futsal World Cup in Portugal. Our players for the third time in a row got to the semi-final of the tournament. As a result Russian girls finished on the fourth place, the same as in 2011, losing with the minimal score in the decisive matches against Brazil and Spain.


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