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Russian Premier League

Published on: 20/11/2016

The top level of professional football in Russia is known as the Russian Premier League and is contested between 16 teams. The season runs from July to May and includes a three-month winter break between December and March.

The champions and runners-up qualify for the group stages of the Champions League, while the third and fourth-ranked teams enter the Europa League. The league follows a relegation and promotion system with the bottom two clubs being demoted and replaced by the top two clubs from the second tier.

In 2016, the Russian Premier League was ranked sixth in the UEFA rankings behind the French Ligue 1 and ahead of the Portuguese Primeira Liga. Russian football began with the foundation of the All-Russia Football Union (VFS) back in 1912. The organisation soon became a member of FIFA which enabled Russia to compete at the Olympic Games Stockholm. This prompted the formation of a national championship, the first edition of which was won by a team from St. Petersburg. Just two years later, the championship was interrupted by World War I.

After the Russia Revolution in 1917, organised football disappeared for five years. Following the formation of the Soviet Union in 1922, football was revived but it was not until 1936 that a recognised national club championship was launched by the All-Union Supreme Council for Physical Culture.

In 1954, following the establishment of a football department within the Ministry of Sports, Russia became a founding member of UEFA. Football was organised by an independent body (FFUSSR) between 1959 and 1964 but soon moved back into the control of the Sports Ministry. Following the collapse of the Union in 1992, the Russian Football Union (RFS) was formed and tasked with reorganising and modernising the game within the country. As a result, a top division was formed featuring 20 teams; however, this number was reduced to 16 in 1994. Spartak Moscow dominated the league, winning nine of the first 10 titles.

In the same year, the RFS also established a Russian Cup competition, with FC Torpedo Moscow being crowned the inaugural champions. In 2001, the Premier League was established a new teams began to wrestle power away from Spartak Moscow including CSKA Moscow, Lokomotiv Moscow, FC Zenit St. Petersburg and Rubin Kazan. Prior to their emergence, only Alania Vladikavkaz (in 1995) had prevented Spartak from claiming 10 straight titles.

CSKA Moscow became the first Russian club to claim an international club trophy when they claimed the UEFA Cup in 2005, a feat that was equalled by Zenit St. Petersburg in 2008. The team from St. Petersburg also went on win the UEFA Super Cup in 2008. Over 40 teams have competed in the Russian Premier League but only Spartak Moscow, CSKA Moscow, Lokomotiv Moscow and Dynamo Moscow have never been relegated. Dynamo Moscow also played in every season of top flight football during the Soviet era. However, they have yet to win a single title.

Published on: 20/11/2016 © Bet Bind
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