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Foreign players’ quota in Russian football clubs likely to be cut — lawmaker

August 28, 2014, 14:04 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The draft law is also likely to stipulate obligatory criteria for foreign players, including their athletic qualification and age
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© ITAR-TASS/Stanislav Krasilnikov

MOSCOW, August 28. /ITAR-TASS/. The existing limit for number of foreigners playing in the Russian Football Premier League may be reduced in line with a mooted law regulating quotas for foreign athletes, Igor Ananskikh, a senior lawmaker from the Russian parliament’s lower house, said on Thursday.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Wednesday that a bill regulating the number of foreign players competing in Russian sports clubs had been drafted and was ready to be submitted for voting with the Russian lawmakers.

The bill envisages granting the Russian Sports Ministry the right of establishing and coordinating the limit of foreign athletes allowed to compete in Russia, who are also referred to as ‘legionnaires.’ Each sport would have its own limit for attracting legionnaires, according to the bill.

The draft law is also likely to stipulate obligatory criteria for foreign players, including their athletic qualification, age, period of permanent stay in Russia as well as athlete’s period of training in Russia and results achieved while competing for Russian sports clubs. The bill will be submitted with the Russian parliament’s lower house, the State Duma, this autumn and may be possibly passed in the final reading next spring.

Ananskikh, the head of the State Duma’s Committee for Physical Culture and Sport, said the reduction of foreign players’ number in the Russian football clubs would provide for the better preparation of the national team for the 2018 World Cup.

“Russia is hosting the World Cup in 2018 and we are interested that our national team performs successfully,” Ananskikh said told ITAR-TASS. “It is still too early to talk about the numbers, but in my opinion the number of legionnaires hitting the field from each football club can be reduced to five.”

In line with the Russian Football Premier League’s rules, a total of seven foreign players from two clubs are allowed to be in the playing field simultaneously during the league’s matches.

The lawmaker said that such insignificant quota reduction may be introduced for a “relatively short period of time, for instance, for two or three years.”

“This would help young [Russian] footballers to gain experience necessary for competing at higher levels,” Ananskikh added.

The Russian national squad experienced a string of setbacks over the past decade failing to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany and 2010 championship in South Africa to the great dismay of the Russian football fans.

Things changed, however, when Italian phenomenon Fabio Capello took over the team as the head coach and managed to help the Russian national squad to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The team, however, failed to clear the first stage of the much-anticipated global tournament putting their coach in the center of stern criticism and raising serious concerns in the country about the team’s performance in the next World Cup, which would be hosted by Russia in 2018.

The country won the bid to host the 2018 World Cup over three years ago in a tight race against the joint bid from England, Portugal and Spain and the joint bid on behalf of Belgium and the Netherlands.

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