Basics on Professional Football in Russia

By Prokopets, Mikhail | The International Sports Law Journal, January-April 2009 | Go to article overview

Basics on Professional Football in Russia


Prokopets, Mikhail, The International Sports Law Journal


Introduction

The Russian Football Championship is undergoing rapid development. The standard of Russian football is constantly rising. Both the Russian national team and clubs have recently achieved major successes in the International arena (bronze medals for the national team at the Euro, wins by Zenit and CSKA at the UEFA Cup and the European Supercup). The Russian championship is universally recognised as now being strong enough to draw level with the four leading European championships (England, Germany, Italy and Spain) and has reached or exceeded the levels of the championships in the Netherlands, Belgium, and even France. Like any other rapidly developing field, Russian football is inevitably encountering a large number of challenges, and I will be able to cover only a handful of these in today's talk.

At the current time, almost nothing is known outside of Russia about the structure, unique characteristics and problems of Russian football, while there is more than enough information available about the other championships. Let us try to fill in the gaps.

In this talk, I would like to touch on problems in the structure of football competitions, problems faced by the Russian premier league, and problems related to TV broadcasting and the activities of agents.

Structure

The current structure of Russian football can be illustrated by the following outline:

Outline

The Russian Football Union (RFS), as a member of FIFA and UEFA, and in compliance with their internal rules and regulations, performs the general supervision and management of Russian football. The RFS was founded and acts as a non-profit organisation and an all-Russia public organisation, and has its members almost in all of the 83 constituent members of the Russian Federation.

For the immediate organisation and implementation of competitions, three separate legal entities have been created: the Russian Premier League (RFPL), the Professional Football League (PFL) and the Amateur Football League (AFL). all these organisations are founded as non-profit organisations, and have their own personnel, separate from that of the RFS, and are directly responsible for organising and holding competitions.

The RFPL was created in the form of a non-profit partnership, and brings together all clubs playing in the Russian championship premier league (the highest league), which are members of the organisation, while the management of clubs is implemented by the League Board, which takes all the key decisions with respect to the activities of the RFPL.

In essence, the clubs themselves take the key decisions (for example, regarding the number of league players, the number of teams playing, the sale of championship broadcasting rights, and the distribution of monies received) with respect to important aspects of the league's activities, and it is important to note that this takes place in a fairly efficient and rapid fashion, due to the small number of clubs.

Sixteen clubs play in the RFPL, the last two of which leave the RFPL at the end of the season.

It is worth noting that the RFPL has a limit on the number of league players: no more than 6 league players can be located on the field at any one time.

The Professional Football League (PFL) Association was founded in order to organise and host championships for the first and second divisions.

It brings together first-division clubs (22 teams) and second-division clubs (80 teams). The second division consists of five zones, into which teams are moved based on their geographical location. Five zone winners are entered into the first division, and the five teams left at the bottom of the league are moved into the amateur league.

The PFL also has a limit on the number of league players: in the first division, no more than two league players can be on the field at one time. In the second division, no league players may play at all. …

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