Russian Football Premier League Roundup – Violence and racism overshadows Main-Moscow Derby

Russian Football Premier League Roundup – Violence and racism overshadows Main-Moscow Derby

Manuel Veth –

Futbolgrad’s Russian Football Premier League roundup from matchday 12 focuses on the Main-Moscow derby Spartak vs CSKA Moscow.

All eyes were on Moscow on matchday 12 of the Russian Football Premier League, as Spartak Moscow faced CSKA Moscow in the Main-Moscow derby. The principal question before the match was whether Spartak could continue their success this season, and underline their title ambitions with a victory over their archrivals.

Meanwhile at CSKA Moscow, head coach Leonid Slutsky was in the spotlight, as the coach has been heavily criticized for his tactical approaches to games in recent weeks. He was further singled out by a group of CSKA Moscow fans for his participation in a promotional video for a Jewish Cultural Centre.

The Main-Moscow Derby provided many ugly episodes

It was another ugly episode in the recent fan history of the club, as many active fans, despite the best efforts of organizations such as CSKA Moscow Against Racism, still regularly display right-wing, anti-Semitic, and racist ideology at RFPL matches.

Sadly, the Moscow Derby was no different, as Spartak Moscow fans, are not inhibited when it comes to showing off their own fascination with right-wing ideology. Spartak fans were seen making Nazi-Salutes and, in response to CSKA fans protesting Slutsky’s support of a Jewish cultural centre, displayed banners that showed among other things an Orthodox Jew and the statement that CSKA is 100% Jewish—obviously anti-Semitic mocking of CSKA as a Jewish club.

Fans of both clubs also clashed at the Novokuznetskaya Metro station in downtown Moscow, despite the fact that the police had promised, before the match, that they would keep the fans of both clubs at bay.

Before the Main-Moscow Derby kicked off, Spartak ultras displayed massive tifos that included flares and, while the display was impressive to watch, sadly, it was more evidence that the ultras were very much in charge of the proceedings at the stadium on that night. At one point, Spartak fans showed off the captured banners of CSKA fan clubs, which intensified the atmosphere of hate.

Violence and racism overshadowed what was overall a good match

The foregoing events overshadowed what had been an attractive match. Spartak Moscow took the early lead, when Denis Glushakov’s shot from 20 metres beat CSKA keeper Igor Akinfeev in the 19th minute. On second glance, the shot, although dipping at the last moment, seemed more than saveable, and Akinfeev can add another blunder to a long and growing list.

From then on, Spartak took the initiative, as they appeared more tactically organized than their rivals. But no more goals came in the first half, as the match ebbed and flowed back and forth between the two combatants. Indeed, it was the fans who provided the next major highlight when flares and fireworks interrupted the match in the 71st minute.

The short break seemed to benefit Spartak more than CSKA, as the Myaso doubled their lead shortly after the game was restarted. Glushakov capped an excellent display with a wonderful pass to Spartak’s Cape Verdean striker Zé Luís, who made no mistake when he sped past CSKA’s defence and slotted the ball passed Akinfeev.

In the 82nd minute, CSKA appeared to be back into the tie, however, as Carlos Strandberg headed the ball home past a sprawling Artem Rebrov, who managed to get his fingertips on the ball, but could not prevent the goal.

The camera briefly switched to the sidelines to focus on Spartak Moscow head coach, Massimo Carrera, who for the first time in the match appeared to be nervous. But the Italian had nothing to worry about when, in the 89th minute, Zé Luís put the match to bed.

After a low cross into the box, Zé Luís easily sidestepped Vasili Berezutski, and then slipped the ball past the hapless Akinfeev. At this point, CSKA were thoroughly beaten and Spartak appeared more and more like a true title contender this season.

Indeed, the game could be the sort of catalyst that could push Spartak all the way, as they continue to share the top spot in the RFPL with Zenit Saint Petersburg with 28 points each. More importantly, Spartak have now outdistanced CSKA Moscow by three points, as the Red Army Men remain stuck in third place. Futbolgrad readers, meanwhile, believe that Spartak’s title dreams are real, but whether the club can go all the way this season remains to be seen.

One thing is for certain, it seems that the Italian head coach, has finally woken up Spartak from a slumber of mediocrity. Spartak have been playing beautiful and efficient football since Carrera took over. On paper, Spartak has had an exciting squad going into the season, but there was always doubt as to whether former head coach Dmitri Alenichev could put the puzzle pieces together. Carrera has done just that, and it will be up to the Italian to keep the run going.

Leonid Slutsky, meanwhile, urgently needs to turn things around at CSKA Moscow, as CSKA have only won two of their last ten matches. For now, he seems to have most supporters on his side, as a recent poll by asked its readers whether it was time to fire Slutsky, and 68% responded with no. The club will be facing AS Monaco on Wednesday in a Champions League game that has become a must-win scenario for Slutsky (read the match preview here), as another poor result will provide traction for those who want to see change at CSKA’s helm.

Russian Football Premier League Roundup – Talking Points

  • After the Main-Moscow Derby Zenit are the only club that can keep track with Spartak at the moment. The club faced Tom Tomsk on Sunday, and dispatched the newly promoted club with a 1-0 victory. Aleksandr Kokorin was the only goal scorer and, while the Russian forward continues to revive his career under Mircea Lucescu, the real heroes were a group of Tom Tomsk fans, who travelled over 2,600 miles to see their club lose at the Petrovsky Stadium.

  • Last season Ural vs Terek Grozny sparked a major controversy, as then Ural head coach, Viktor Goncharenko, resigned after what appeared to be a major match fixing scandal. The two clubs met again on Sunday, and Terek won 4-1 but, according to, there were several suspicious scenes, leading to the suggestions that the match may have been fixed. The head of the Russian Football Union, Vitaly Mutko, later admitted that there was indeed some weird activity by bookmakers: “I myself have not seen the game, but after the match asked Sergei Pryadkin [head of the Russian Football Premier League] to analyse the situation. They got in touch with the bookmakers association, which reported that there were unnatural quotations. We have held talks with the inspector and the match delegate, who also expressed concern about what was happening on the field.”
  • According to, Valery Karpin could soon become the new coach of Krylia Sovetov Samara. The club are currently at the bottom of the table and, as a result, have let go coach Frank Vercauteren after the club lost 1-0 to FC Orenburg on matchday 12.

Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and a writer for He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States”, which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada.  Follow Manuel on Twitter @homosovieticus.