Revolution in Russian sports?

A kind of split has occured among Russian sports' top officials. This fact gives hope that the peaceful idyll formed among Russian sports authorities within the several past years will finally come to its end.

It is perfectly evident that Russia is steadily losing its positions at Olympic games and world championships, and the defeats are rather painful for us. Indeed, the scandalous failure at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games and Russia’s bad luck at the 2002 Korea-Japan FIFA Cup made the majority of Russians unhappy. However, Russian sports officials are astonishingly calm regarding this fact. President of Russia’s Football Union Vyacheslav Koloskov is always smiling with his ready-made answers to any questions. However, it is of no use to mention any names in connection with the situation with Russian sports.

It would be better to mention now famous Soviet hockey player Vyacheslav Fetisov, the man who is expected to bring new ideas into Russia’s sports. Vyacheslav Fetisov was recently appointed president of the Russian State Sport Committee. Chairman of the Russian Olympic Committee Leonid Tyagachev said in an interview to Novaya Gazeta today: “Vyacheslav Fetisov started his activity on the post with prompt changes.” Tyagachev obviously dislikes the open letter sent by Vyacheslav Fetisov to President Putin to initiate the structure of Russian sport management. For example, he suggests that the leading role of the Russian Olympic Committee in sports management should be reduced; in addition, more new organizations, All-Russia sport confederation, Association of Professional Sports, and the Council for Physical Culture and Sports, attached to the RF president should be set up. Leonid Tyagachev thinks that such measures will result in a split among sport officials; if the initiative is realized, Russia’s sportd can be given up for lost, he says.

The letter by Vyacheslav Fetisov was published in the Kommersant Russian newspaper on July 5 under the title “Vyacheslav Fetisov to Restore the Soviet Power in Sports.” Later, Fetisov told journalists his ideas about Russian sport development. The Russian State Sport Committee Chairman, as quoted by Russia’s RTR Vesti TV program, thinks that for successful development of Russian sport a legislative basis is to be adopted first of all. The law on sports in force was adopted in 1999; it is now slightly effective. To make the law work, either amendments are to be made or the document is to be completely altered.

In Fetisov’s words, there is practically no power vertical in the sports and physical culture spheres. But such vertical is necessarily to be created. A Committee for physical culture and sport attached to the RF president is to become one of the two elements in the process of the vertical creation. Fetisov thinks that personnel problem is of top priority in Russia’s sports. “50% of success depends upon coaches. Nowadays, 20,000 Russian specialists apply our methods working abroad. Our objective now is to get these specialists back to Russia,” Vyacheslav Fetisov says.

Another problem that is also crucial for development of Russian sports is financing. Athletic equipment at youth sports schools and the lack of sports constructions in Russia leave much to be desired. Fetisov thinks that financing of some sectors in the sports sphere is to be doubled.

For the successful development of Russian sports sphere, a transparent system of relations between patrons of sport is to be created to know the ways of financing distribution. On the whole, as Vyacheslav Fetisov says, the scope of problems is endless. To solve all of them, mentality of the Russian people is to be stirred up, in other words, it is necessary to wake “the Russian bear in sports” that is currently sleeping quietly.

Russian football commentator Vasily Utkin thinks that Vyacheslav Fetisov will be able to help Russian sports revive; he is now probably slightly aware of the way how to do it, but he is sure to learn more in the process. “To my mind, Fetisov is rather cautious now, because he is gradually getting into so many problems of Russian sports.” In Utkin’s words, the future plans of Fetisov are all of an administrative nature; he wants to make the Russian State Sport Committee a department of which initiatives and instructions are really effective for Russian sport and the country on the whole.

Today, the government considered a plan on work and concept of the Russian State Sport Committee developed by Fetisov; results of the discussion will be published later. Some people say that the new initiative is just another reshuffling in the Committee, but let us hope that every new idea that appears will be effective and useful for the Russian sport.

Sergey Stefanov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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Author`s name Sergey Stefanov