The Gazprom League

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post from Ukrainian football writer Oleksandr Sereda on the so-called ‘Gazprom League’ – a plan to unite the Russian and Ukrainian top divisions led by a few clubs and everyone’s favourite gas extracting monolith.

(and as a lecturer in English as a foreign language, I should compliment Oleksandr on his truly excellent English)

Following the break-up of the Soviet Union there was organized a so-called CIS Cup which featured the champions of the former Soviet republics, but this competition never really took off, with top Ukrainian and Russian teams not taking it as a must-win tournament. The fact that now it has turned into a championship among youth national sides representing former USSR republics just shows that the initial idea hasn’t really worked out, to say the least.

Let’s recall when the news regarding a joint league made the headlines in the Ukrainian and Russian press: after Zenit were fined, handed a 0-3 defeat and had to play three homes in front of empty stands following an incident that took place in the notorious match between them and Dinamo, which saw Dinamo’s goalkeeper Anton Shunin getting injured by a firecracker thrown onto the pitch. That game took place on 17 November and on 24 November Zenit official website posted an interview with the Gazprom boss Alexey Miller, who, among other things, said that ‘we had a conversation about this [CIS league] recently’. Is the timing of both events pure coincidence? Highly unlikely. Every action leads to reaction. Zenit are not happy with Nikolai Tolstykh, president of RFU (Russian Football Union), who definitely doesn’t dance to Zenit’s tune and by voicing an idea of a joint league, with, probably, having a genuine desire to realize it (the idea has been flying around since mid 2000s) they want to get rid of him, as Tolstykh’s post in a joint league will become irrelevant. Or maybe they just want to make him ‘do things the right way’ next time. The fascinating thing is that one of the biggest promoters of this league is Valeriy Gazzaev, manager and president of the Russian outfit Alania (15th in RPL table). Should such a league be created, it is very hard to imagine his side there by any stretch of imagination, otherwise this league will become a total joke. There are more questions than answers, and it doesn’t only concern Alania’s man.

Want to read more? Click here to go to Oleksandr’s blog.

The Slacker

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