Russian National Football (Soccer) Team

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A LOOK AT RUSSIA

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.

Moscow
 

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 upheaval.

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 country.

Moscow

Honours:

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.

Interesting Facts:

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 ethnic backgrounds.

The official currency is the rouble.

Moscow

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.

Location:

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 of Japan.

Geography:

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.


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