The Football Association of Russia was founded in 1912 and
became affiliated to FIFA that same year. In 1992, after the dissolution
of the Soviet Union (USSR), Russia rejoined Football's International Federation.
In the late 19th century the Russian government went to great lengths
to restrict the practice of football among the country's ethnic minorities
in the hope of maintaining it exclusively for the country's elite. However,
the policy failed, and the game's popularity spread with the return of
Russian students from England. By 1904, the majority of Russia's clubs
had already been established, and in 1912, when the national association
was founded, the country participated in an Olympic Games Football Tournament
for the first time.
Football's popularity grew enormously after the formation
of the USSR in the early 1920s, a period that coincided with the formation
of the capital's leading sides, Dinamo Moscow, Spartak Moscow and CSKA
Moscow. The sport provided one of the few motives for enjoyment for a
population then in the throes of severe economic hardship and political
The 50s and 60s were Russian football's golden era, with the national
team establishing itself as a contender on the world stage. In the four
FIFA World Cups held between 1958 and 1970, the USSR reached at
least the quarter-finals on each occasion. The then Soviet side had as
their last line of defence one of the all-time greats of world football,
the legendary black spider Lev Yashin. This Soviet side came
closest to winning FIFA's flagship event in England in 1966, but went
out in the last four after losing 2-1 to West Germany.
USA 94 marked Russia's first appearance at the FIFA World Cup finals after
the break-up of the old Soviet Union. It was there that their striker
Oleg Salenko set the record for most goals scored in a single game, netting
five times against Cameroon.
Changes to the country's political landscape in the early 90s took their
toll on the national side with many players opting to defend the colours
of the newly independent Baltic and Caucasian states. Today, the Russian
national team is going through a period of renewal, with emerging players
like Andrei Kariaka and Alexandr Kerzhakov expected to carry the hopes
of the country as in enters a new footballing era.
The success of CSKA Moscow in winning the 2005 UEFA Cup against Sporting
Lisbon (in the Portuguese's club's own stadium) has given a huge boost
to Russian football in general, and to Moscow in particular, where, according
to a recent survey, over half the inhabitants avidly follow football.
Women's football is also blossoming in Russia and looks to have a very
promising future. The country's U-19 side reached the quarter-finals of
the FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship Thailand 2004, only losing out
to eventual champions Germany. The young players left their mark on the
tournament with a series of memorable displays that laid the foundations
for continued success down the road . The talent of the new generation
was confirmed in the UEFA Women's U-19 Championship Hungary 2005, which
they won thanks to some superb displays. Indeed, there was no better way
to warm up for the next World Championship when Russia will be the host
These relate to the former USSR side, now known as Russia.
1960: European Championship winners.
1956: Gold Medal winners at Melbourne Olympic Games.
1988: Gold Medal winners at Seoul Olympic Games.
1964: European Championship runners-up.
1972: European Championship runners-up.
1988: European Championship runners-up.
1972: Bronze Medal winners at Munich Olympic Games.
1976: Bronze Medal winners at Montreal Olympic Games.
1980: Bronze Medal winners at Moscow Olympic Games.
According to local tradition, the birth of the nation began around 862,
when the Scandinavian chief Rurik of Jutland founded Novgorod, and his
successor Oleg began to unite rival tribes to the east. The country's
fascinating though often turbulent history, which has seen the rise and
fall of empires, tsars, and revolutions down the centuries, has shaped
the character of modern day Russia. The unimaginable despair of the First
World War paved the way for the Russian Revolution, which would in turn
herald the end for Tsarist Russia and lead to the creation of the Union
of Soviet Socialist Republics. After the Second World War, the USSR extended
its borders into Eastern Europe creating the former communist block and
establishing itself as one of the world's superpowers.
The failed communist model would later be revised by Mikhail Gorbachev,
who introduced a series of political and economic reforms (perestroika)
and pushed for greater openness in government. The process began a chain
of events that would eventually see the collapse of the Berlin Wall and
the subsequent break-up of the Soviet Union.
On 8 December 1991, the USSR was officially dissolved and replaced by
the Confederation of Independent States (CIS) with Boris Yeltsin as President.
It was under his presidency that the Baltic and Caucasian states received
independence and the map of Europe was redrawn. Yeltsin was succeeded
by Vladimir Putin as President of the Federal Republic of Russia in 2000.
The most recent census puts Russia's population at 148 million with the
capital Moscow home to some 9 million.
There are myriad ethnic and national groups spread across Russia's vast
territory. 81% are Russian, 4% Tatars, 3% Ukrainian and 12% are of other
The official currency is the rouble.
The official language is Russian, though Tatar, Chechen,
Irguiz and Baskhir are among the dozens of other languages spoken.
Some 80% of the population are Russian Orthodox Christians, but there
are also sizeable Islamic, Buddhist and Jewish population.
The main cities are Moscow, St Petersburg and Vladivostok.
Russia borders more countries than any other nation: in the extreme southeast
it meets with Korea DPR's north-eastern tip; to the south there is China,
Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Black Sea; to the southwest
it borders Ukraine, while further west lies Belarus, Latvia, Estonia,
the Gulf of Finland and Finland, and to the northwest Norway. Russia's
northern shores face onto the glacial Artic Ocean, while its eastern territories
face several arms of the Pacific: the Bering Strait (which separates Russia
from Alaska), the Bering Sea, and finally the Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea
Russia can be divided into three distinct geographical regions: European
Russia, which is principally the territory to the west of the Ural mountains;
Siberia, which extends from the Urals almost to the Pacific Ocean; and
Eastern Russia, which encompasses the strip of land that borders the Pacific
rim and extends down to the country's extreme southeast.
Almost 10,000 km, stretching from the eastern shores of the Baltic sea
to Ratmanov Island in the Bering Strait, separate the country's eastern
and western frontiers at their widest point. From north to south, it is
a journey of more than 4000 km from the Artic islands in the Barents Sea
to the Caucasus Mountains in the southern zone.
With an area of more that 17 million sq.km, the variety in landscape and
topography is truly impressive. Enormous swathes of plateaus and barren
plains are only interrupted by the Ural Mountains, which reach heights
of 1,900 m in the extreme east. Siberia extends from the Urals to the
Pacific, and its vast emptiness and hostile climate often proved too much
for the prisoners incarcerated and exiled here in previous centuries.
While Moscow and St Petersburg can boast pleasant summer temperature of
24°C, the mercury has been known to plunge to 12?C in winter.
The eastern coast has the most temperate climate, though temperatures
of 14°C are not unheard of there either. Still, it is comparatively
mild when compared to Oimiakon, in the north-eastern province of Yakutia,
which claims to be the coldest inhabited region on earth after recording
temperatures as low as 65°C.