Richard van Poortvliet: A bang to the head for Russian football

Whenever I write an article about the behaviour of Zenit I always get the feeling it is not going to be the last. In just the last six months I have written about the clubs’ fans causing trouble at a Champions League tie at Austria Vienna and then burning a Borussia Dortmund supporters’ flag in the same competition. However, that pales in comparison to the latest incident, when a fan ran on to the pitch towards the end of the game against Dynamo Moscow on Sunday at the Petrovksy Stadium and punched Vladimir Granat in the head.

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Richard van Poortvliet: Where player quotas have had an unbalancing effect

Just two years ago, life could not have been better for Magomed Ozdoev. He was in with a chance of being called up to the Russia squad for EURO 2012, following some excellent displays for his club side, Lokomotiv Moscow and was expected to be a linchpin in midfield for both club and country for the next decade.

Things have not fallen into place for the 21 year-old. He has only started four matches this season and has yet to complete 90 minutes on the pitch this season in the Russian Premier League.

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Richard van Poortvliet: Russian revolution will be worth the wait

I remember coming across the Kirov stadium in St. Petersburg for the first time after browsing through Simon Inglis’ informative book, ‘Football Grounds of Europe,’ when I was yet to reach my teens. I was in awe of the sheer size of the arena, which was a true ‘socialist superbowl’, holding at its peak, more than 100,000 fans.

The stadium took 18 years to complete, after construction was halted because of the Second World War,

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Richard van Poortvliet: Build it and they will come, hopefully

It’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon and I am walking through the Olympic Park in Sochi. There maybe a Federation Cup tennis game taking place, but there is still an eerie silence around the vast complex. The weather is stunning, the facilities are amazing, and just a stones throw away from the Adler Arena, which is hosting the tennis match between Russia and Argentina, is the ‘Fisht’ Arena, which held the opening and closing ceremonies at the Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

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Richard van Poortvliet: Forget Brazil, Russia is coming

Aleksey Sorokin, Russia’s CEO for the FIFA 2018 World Cup, comes across as a very amenable character. Smartly dressed and speaking in perfect English, with a slight American accent gained from his time studying in North America, he is extremely relaxed, even though the biggest sporting event ever to take place in the country, is a little over four years away.

The spotlight is yet to shine its full glare on Russia, however this will change following the World Cup in Brazil in June and Sorokin is looking forward to the extra attention.

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Richard van Poortvliet: Anzhi’s rollercoaster ride takes new twist

It’s been a strange year for Anzhi Makhachkala. Not that long ago, it would have been hard enough find someone who could locate the city on a map, let alone pronounce the capital of Dagestan, which lies on the shores of the Caspian Sea. From fighting for a place in the Champions League 12 months ago, the side from the South of Russia are bottom of the Russian Premier League and only picked up their first win of the season on the March 9.

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Richard van Poortvliet: Russians put the boot into hooliganism

The resumption of the Russian Premier League season is still around six weeks away, as the whole of the country is transfixed ahead of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi. With all the media attention focused on the Southern Russian city, one piece of important sporting legislation slipped largely under the radar.

This week, the ‘supporters’ law came into fruition in an attempt by the Russian authorities to try and finally tackle the problem of football hooliganism in the country.

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Richard van Poortvliet: Holidays over, is Russia warming to tasks ahead?

Russia is finally beginning to return to normal after an extended holiday period. New Year, the Orthodox Christmas and the Orthodox New Year have all been celebrated as millions begin to return to work. However, the resumption of the domestic football season is still some way off, as large parts of Russia are still under blankets of snow. In anticipation of the season getting back underway with the resumption of European football for Zenit St Petersburg,

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Richard van Poortvliet: Time is long overdue for Zenit to clean out its dark side

St Petersburg is the undoubted tourist capital of Russia. Millions flock to the city every year to witness the Hermitage and the wonderful cultural sites that it has to offer. However, when talking about football the hospitality is less than welcoming.

I lived in St Petersburg for a year whilst studying Russian and Zenit has a particular affiliation in my heart, despite living in Moscow for the past eight years. I remember the days under Vlastimil Petrzela,

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Richard van Poortvliet: Russians warm to World Cup and a post-Soviet resurgence

A collective sigh of relief went around most of Russia on Friday evening, as millions were glued to their television screens, watching events unfold at the upmarket resort of Costa do Sauípe Resort in the East of Brazil. They could finally breath a lot easier, or start planning their summer holiday’s once Russia, who were the final country to be drawn, were placed in a group with Belgium, South Korea and Algeria.

The draw has remarkable similarities for Russia to the World Cup group draw in 2002.

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Richard van Poortvliet: Russians’ World Cup winter shows no signs of ending, new growth needed

2018 may seem like along way into the future at the moment, however, the FIFA World Cup finals are getting ever closer for the host nation Russia. While the construction of the country’s stadia and the worries of racist abuse have grabbed most of the headlines, very little has been written about how the national team may fair at world football’s biggest tournament.

Legendary Brazilian Pele once said: “The day Russia win the football World Cup,

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Richard van Poortvliet: Russians get tough as they wake from a dark football past

Russian football has suffered from a poor image over the last decade, with some justification; however, the last month has been the darkest period in quite a while. The fallout from the racist chants directed at Yaya Toure following Manchester City’s 2-1 victory at the Arena Khimki against CSKA Moscow brought into question Russia’s capability of hosting the 2018 World Cup. However, arguably worse was to follow, as just a few days later, Spartak Moscow fans unveiled a Nazi Swastika banner,

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Richard van Poortvleit: Racism, what racism? Russian problem will not go away until it is educated

Reading the Russian and English reaction to CSKA Moscow’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League could not have been more different. While the London based press concentrated on the alleged racist taunts directed at Yaya Toure – the topic was hardly mentioned by their Russian counterparts, who preferred to concentrate on CSKA’s failings, which now leaves them needing a near miracle to reach the knockout stages.

It is often the case that when something negative happens in Russia,

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Richard van Poortvliet: Home is…wherever you can find an open stadium

“I’ve heard there hasn’t been this much rain in Moscow since the Tsarist times”. Those were the words of the President of the Russian Football Premier League, Sergey Pryadkin; to describe the torrential downpours the capital has been experiencing over the last two weeks.

The rain has finally ceased, giving way to an artic chill, which has done little to cheer the local population, especially with the thought of five months of snow and bitter cold to look forward to,

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