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MOSCOW, January 20. /TASS/. A bill regulating a limit of foreign athletes allowed to compete in Russian team sports will be submitted for debates with Russia’s lower house of the parliament, or the State Duma, by February, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Tuesday.
“Our stance is to grant [sports] federations complete independence in deciding on their approach to the limit [of foreign athletes],” Mutko told a news conference. “As for the mooted bill, its draft will be submitted with the State Duma by February.”
“We want to provide protection for our players in all sports and not football alone. We will be acting in coordination with [sports] federations,” the Russian sports minister added.
Mutko announced last August that a bill regulating the number of foreign players competing in Russian team sports and 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.
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).
Commenting on the RFU’s decision on the legionnaires quota in football, Igor Ananskikh, the head of the State Duma’s Committee for Physical Culture and Sport, said last week that RFU’s move undermined the development of football in Russia.
“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 said. “It is aimed at the development of definite clubs, but not the Russian football on the whole.”
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.