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Football: Nostalgia against Common Sense
January 9, 2013 09:18

Russia might be getting a new football tournament, a piece of news which would be generally welcomed. But in this case the public has not been quite inspired, to say the least.

The idea was first voiced by Zenit St Petersburg after a heavy penalty it got following a hideous firecracker incident in a match against Dynamo Moscow on November 17, 2012.

Dynamo’s goalkeeper Anton Shunin sustained a serious eye and ear injury after a spectator, allegedly belonging to one of Zenit's fan groups, threw a firecracker that went off right under Shunin's feet. The incident occurred in the 37th minute when Dinamo was in the lead, 1-0. The game was canceled, and after a probe both clubs were handed down a penalty.

But before the Russian football Union announced its final decision, Zenit's sponsor tried to intimidate the union's disciplinary commission. Long-standing CEO of Gazprom, Alexey Miller, told the Zenit-owned radio station that the club could leave the Premier League on case it's punished.

Commentators then questioned the rationale behind the seemingly stupid idea, but it soon turned out Zenit had worked on it for some time and that its response what’s quite so emotional as it appears at first sight.

Zenit announced it was mulling a kind of a super CIS league, along the likes of the KHL, the ice hockey giant championship spanning across several countries, and a rival of North America’s NHL.

Sports gurus were puzzled. UEFA is usually against such supranational tournaments, and there are not so many clubs on the post-Soviet area that are capable to deliver the same level of football as Zenit. Veteran football experts have named a couple of Ukrainian teams whose budget and performance can help them qualify for such a league, e.g. Dynamo Kiev or Shakhtar Donetsk.

The future of Russia’s Premier League will also be unclear, just like the number of Russian teams that will be officially allowed to play in European elite tournaments like the Europa League or the Champions League.

Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko spoke against the idea, and Dynamo Kiev’s president did not like it, either.

Nevertheless, there was a special committee set up to look into the matter, now headed by former CSKA coach Valery Gazzayev.

Russia-IC will continue to update you on the developments, but so far the odds for such a super league to be set up are too small.


Author: Mikhail Vesely

Tags: Russian football Dynamo Moscow Zenit St. Petersburg Russian football clubs Anzhi 

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