They kicked deeply – Newspaper Kommersant No. 123 (7085) from 16.07.2021

For the first time, the Russian Football Union (RFU) discussed the issue of a radical reform of domestic football, announced this week. After the meeting of the RFU executive committee, it became clear that, according to the structure, it should be multi-layered and touch not only the format of the national championship, but also, for example, the limit on legionnaires, as well as the national team, which next week will receive a new head coach instead of the one sent to resignation after the failure at the European Championship Stanislav Cherchesov.

At a meeting of the executive committee of the Russian Football Union, the first presentation of options for reforming the country’s championship in various divisions, including the highest – the Russian Premier League (RPL) – was held for representatives of the key body of the structure. The RFU, which prepared these options in cooperation with the Dutch company Hypercube, first spoke about them at the beginning of the week (see Kommersant on July 14). He justified the need for reforms by the “stagnation” of Russian football “in the economic sense” and the fall in sports results. At the time of the start of work on them, it was primarily about the clubs that had turned into the usual European Cup failures, but now the failure of the Russian national team, which did not leave the group at the European Championship, was added to them.

As a result of the reforms, the RFU wants to get “more matches between direct competitors in the table, almost complete getting rid of empty games in which nothing is decided” and thus increase interest in the championship.

The organization expressed confidence that the impact of the reforms will be profound. She pointed out that “by changing the format and increasing the attractiveness of each match, we are increasing the average audience,” and “this, in turn, leads to an increase in revenue.” Additional income “allows the club to invest in further development.” The reforms should come into force in 2022, that is, after a season.

The document published by the RFU contained four formats of the RPL championship, alternative to the existing one. After the executive committee, its president, Alexander Dyukov, at least determined the favorite formats, saying that “the predominant one is 16 teams in the RPL”. There are two options for maintaining the current number of participants in the championship. Two more suggest their increase to 18 and 20 clubs. However, Alexander Dyukov made a reservation that the study of them is far from complete and “there will be several more approaches before we make a decision.”

In fact, the process of football reform will affect not only the principles of the country’s championship. Alexander Dyukov also acknowledged the relevance of the issue of the limit on foreign players in the top division. Now in the club application from 25 players there can be 8 foreigners.

Alexander Dyukov unexpectedly frankly admitted that “he is an opponent of the limit,” and the “optimal” system would be a system in which it was not. Meanwhile, this point of view will clearly contradict the point of view of state bodies responsible for the development of sports.

The topic of the legionnaires was raised at a recent meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Chernyshenko, dedicated to the bad results of domestic teams in the most notable game forms – football, hockey and basketball. Both Mr. Chernyshenko himself and the Minister of Sports of the Russian Federation Oleg Matytsin insisted on discussing the limit, using such definitions as “the dominance of legionnaires.”

Reforms, it seems, await the Russian national team – more precisely, the entire pyramid of Russian national teams of different ages. Alexander Dyukov explained that “if we take world football, then the federations are following the path of accumulating uniform rules for the entire vertical of the national teams, from values ​​to the style of play”. “This allows players to quickly adapt when moving from national team to national team. This has not been clearly formulated in our vertical, we need to do it, ”he said.

True, it is still unknown who will be at the very top of this vertical: the RFU has not yet appointed a new head coach of the national team instead of Stanislav Cherchesov, who was dismissed a week ago. “While we are in search and in negotiations, we are communicating with several candidates,” said Alexander Dyukov, promising, however, that an agreement with the one who will take the position of Mr. Cherchesov will be reached before the start of the next Russian championship, which will start on 23 July.

The tasks that will face him are already known.

This is getting to the World Championship in Qatar in 2022, “successful” performance at the European Championship in 2024, as well as a number of related tasks.

In particular, Alexander Dyukov said that the coach selected by the RFU should continue the work of Stanislav Cherchesov on “building a new team”, that “young players should be included”, and also improve his playing style. “We are talking about intense football, compact, with well-defined team interaction. This is a team that knows pressing, counterpressing, knows how to move the ball forward through the middle and short passes, “explained Mr. Dyukov, talking about the” image “that he would like to see by 2024.

Alexey Dospekhov

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