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MOSCOW, March 3. /TASS/. Brazilian striker playing for Russia’s southern football club Krasnodar has submitted documents necessary to obtain Russian citizenship, his agent told TASS on Tuesday.
Last December, the 29-year-old Brazilian striker married a Russian woman and started a procedure of collecting documents to obtain a Russian citizen’s passport.
"We have collected all necessary documents, submitted them and are now waiting for results," Ari’s agent said. "I do not know how long we will be waiting. We have done everything depending on us."
Vladimir Khashig, the director general of the Krasnodar FC, said in an interview with TASS that the club "takes no part whatsoever" in Ari’s drive for the Russian citizenship.
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko earlier hinted that the talented Brazilian striker may be of the benefit for the Russian national football team, particularly ahead of the 2016 UEFA Euro Cup in France and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, to be hosted by Russia.
Before coming to Russia, Ari played in his native Brazil and then for a Swedish football club. Between 2010 and 2013 he played for Spartak Moscow FC and then was transferred to Krasnodar FC. He played a total of 15 matches for Krasnodar in the 2014-2015 season having scored four goals.
The issue of naturalizing foreign athletes by granting them Russian citizenship is not something new for sports in Russia and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia’s southern resort city of Sochi showed the benefit of the so-called naturalization.
Hosting team Russia finished the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi a year ago with the overall result of 33 won medals (13 gold, 11 silver and 9 bronze medals) surpassing its previous Winter Olympics record of 11 gold medals, set at the 1994 Winter Games in Norway’s Lillehammer.
US-born snowboarder Vic Wild and South Korea-born Viktor Ahn, who both performed for the Russian national Olympic squad in Sochi, together brought the team five gold medals, accounting for almost 40% of the total gold medals won by Russia at the Winter Olympics.
Fabio Capello, the Italian head coach of the Russian national team repeatedly said he had nothing against the naturalization of foreign footballers in Russia, but added that had to be much better players than the domestic ones.
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 when Italian phenomenon Capello took over the team as the head coach in July of 2012 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.
However, Russia did not severe the contract with Capello after the Russian team’s performance at the World Cup in Brazil and the Italian manager also decided to stay with the Russian squad as the head coach until the year of 2018 as stipulated by the contract terms.
Russia 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.
Russia selected 11 host cities to be the venues for the matches of the 2018 World Cup and they are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.
The matches of the 2018 World Cup will be held between June 14 and July 15 at 12 stadiums located in the 11 mentioned above cities across Russia. Two of the stadiums are located in the Russian capital.