Russian Football: A Brief Overview

By: Carolina Herrera


“Today [football] is not just a form of entertainment–it’s part of Russia’s national culture.”
Russia 2018: The Tournament of Dreams


Fast Facts: Russian Football

For Russians, Saint Petersburg is an iconic city of Russian football. According to historical records, Saint Petersburg is where the first official Russian football match took place in 1897.

The Russian Empire National Football team was the association representing the Russian Empire from 1910 to 1914. In October 1910, the Russian Empire played its first unofficial international match against the Bohemia national team. Two years later in January 1912, The All-Russian Football Union was founded, and then admitted to FIFA later that same year. However, the development of league football in Russia was stopped by the outbreak of World War I.

After Russia withdrew from World War I, the first international match played by a Soviet team occurred in September 1922. In 1923, the Soviet Union’s national team was established; however, the team didn’t take part in any high-profile international tournaments until the Helsinki Olympics in 1952. Four years later, the Soviet national team won the gold medal in Melbourne, and two years later, the Soviet Union team made it to the finals of the 1958 World Cup.

Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, on August 16, 1992, Russia played its first international match agains Mexico. The Russian national football team represents Russia in association football and is controlled by the Russian Football Union, the governing body for football in Russia. Russia has appeared in ten World Cups and will host the tournament this summer.

  • Confederation: UEFA (Europe)
  • Head Coach: Stanislav Cherchesov
    • Stanislav Cherchesov is “a former USSR and Russia international goalkeeper who was selected for the national squads in 1944 and 2002 FIFA World Cups. Cherchesov was appointed coach in 2016. The former Dynamo Moscow and Legia Warsaw boss led the hosts at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.”
  • Captain: Igor Akinfeev
    • “The Star: A six-time Russian title winner. Akinfeev has over 100 caps for his country. He is also the national team’s captain and will be an influential figure as they attempt to impress on home soil.”
  • FIFA code: RUS
  • Appearances: 11 (as of 2018)
  • World Cup Titles: 0
  • FIFA Ranking: 65 (Last Update: November 23, 2017)

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Sources: “2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ – Destination.” Accessed April 20, 2018. “RUSSIA.” January 01, 1900. Accessed April 19, 2018.

Image retrieved from:

“Russia 2018: The Tournament of Dreams.” Русский. Accessed April 27, 2018.

“World Cup Hosts Russia ‘not a Footballing Nation’.” February 2, 2018. Accessed April 17, 2018.