Monday, October 6, 2008

Soccer in Russia

Soccer was being played in Russia by the time of the last Tsars. Some say the first games were played as far back as 1887, when English mill owners Clement and Harry Charnock formed a team near Moscow.

By the turn of the century there became records of leagues both in Moscow and Saint Petersburg and the Football Union of Russia sent a team to the 1912 Olympic.

Soviet Times
After the Russian revolution toppled the Romanov dynasty soccer thrived because the Soviet Union encouraged the growth of the game, even laying pitches in Red Square in 1942 and 1943 for games to be played on during May Day celebrations.

First Win
The Soviet Union joined FIFA in 1946 and played its first official game in 1952, beating Bulgaria in the Olympic tournament. They won this tournament four years later in 1956 in Melbourne, under head coach G. Kachalin.

At this point, the Soviet Union was doing very well. The team finished in the quarter-finals in the 1958 and 1962 FIFA World Cups and won their first major trophy by winning the inaugural UEFA European Championship in 1960 under head coach G. Kachalin.

Goal keeper Lev Yashin was a constant on the team that thrived in the 1950s and 1960s and performed spectacularly in the World Cup in England in 1966, helping the Soviet Union reach the semi-finals.

Blokhin Era
Yashin was done playing by the team a "new team" emerged in the 1970s. The Soviet Union continued to regularly qualify for the World Cup with Oleg Blokhin on the team, but they truly thrived at the European Championships in 1972, at which they were losing finalists. They also won Olympic gold in 1988.

This last summer, Russia made it into the semi-finals of the Euro Cup Tournament in which they lost 3-0.

Most caps: Viktor Onopko (113)
Top scorer: Oleg Blokhin (42)
First International: Finland 2 - 1 Russia
Largest win: USSR 11 - 1 India
Finland 0 - 10 USSR
Worst defeat: Germany 16 - 0 Russia

National Team Colours
Shirts: White
Shorts: Blue
Socks: Red

Shirts: Red
Shorts: White
Socks: Blue

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