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RFU’s decision on legionnaires quota undermines Russian football development — lawmaker

January 13, 2015, 18:09 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Last month the Executive Committee of the RFU approved a limit for foreign players allowed to be submitted by football clubs before each playing season at a formula of 10 foreigners plus 15 Russians
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© Mikhail Japaridze/TASS

MOSCOW, January 13. /TASS/. A decision made earlier by the Russian Football Union concerning the number of foreign players allowed to play for Russian football clubs undermine the development of the sport in Russia, Igor Ananskikh, a senior lawmaker from the Russian parliament’s lower house, said on Tuesday.

Last month the Executive Committee of the Russian Football Union (RFU) approved a limit for foreign players allowed to be submitted by football clubs before each playing season at a formula of 10 foreigners plus 15 Russian players (10+15).

“I believe that the legionnaires quota decision passed at the most recent session of the RFU’s Executive Committee is not aimed at the development of the football in the country,” Ananskikh, the head of the State Duma’s Committee for Physical Culture and Sport, said. “It is aimed at the development of definite clubs, but not the Russian football on the whole.”

The Russian Football Premier League (RFPL) currently exploits the "7+4" formula, which means that no more than seven foreign players can be simultaneously playing on the field for one club during the league’s matches.

“The number of legionnaires needs to be reduced, Russian players should be hitting the field more often and spend more playing time,” he said. “Developing the commercial side of a certain league is a good idea, but there must be a long-term strategy, which would take the football to a higher level.”

The lawmaker said that the mooted law on the foreign players, permitted to play in team competitions in Russia, would help settle the issue with the football in particular.

“I believe that the draft law regulating the limit of legionnaires in team competitions will be passed this coming spring, but before that the bill needs to be discussed with all interested parties of the Russian football,” Ananskikh said.

The bill regularing the number of legionnaires

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko announced in August 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.

As news about the bill regulating the foreign players’ quota broke out in August, Ananskikh proposed at that time that “the number of legionnaires hitting the field from each football club can be reduced to five.”

According to him, 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 said at that time.

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 four 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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