Racial abuse directed at Manchester City’s Yaya Toure

After last night’s incident involving racial abuse directed at Manchester City’s Yaya Toure, are football’s governing bodies doing the right thing in terms of eliminating racial abuse and behaviour from the beautiful game?

If such incident had happened in England, there would be mass uproar. Such racist incidents are now few and far between, thankfully, and credit must go to the FA and campaigns such as “Kick It Out”, who have done well to combat a problem that was widespread in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

However, such incidents in Russia are common. Anzhi, Zenit St. Petersburg and CSKA Moscow have all been involved in high-profile racist incidents in the last 12 months. Zenit St.Petersburg, for example, had a section of fans demand that the club never sign a black player again, as they “wouldn’t be worthy of wearing the club’s shirt”.

Are UEFA doing enough to combat this problem, therefore? Well, despite their “Say No To Racism” campaign, racist incidents are still getting off lightly in comparison to other incidents. For example, during Euro 2012, the fine given to Nicolas Bendtner for displaying underpants with a sponsor on was double the fine given to four countries for racist chanting. Such example highlights that UEFA are perhaps too lenient with racist abuse, and hence why it still continues.

My suggestion would be that the correct way forward, in order to combat such abuse, is to impose harsher penalties on the offending teams. At the moment, one racist chanting or abuse incident leads to a partial stadium closure, with two incidents leading to a game being played behind closed doors, and a fine of just over £45,000. Now, this fine is very mediocre, especially for the larger teams, as such fine is small in comparison to the money the club would receive through television deals, sponsorship, and prize money from UEFA.

Personally, I would like to see much larger fines, or points deductions, as a penalty for racist chanting. Points deductions would hit the club harder than fines, and as a result may eliminate the incidents that still occur in the modern game, such as the Yaya Toure incident from last night.

Russian Premier League - Matchday 5 Review

Matchday 5 got underway on Saturday in understated fashion with a 0-0 draw between Ural and Amkar in Yekaterinburg. Bulgarians Georgi Peev and Blagoy Georgiev both returned to the starting lineup after being demoted for a short period after a bust up with Amkar manager Stanislav Cherchesov.

Zenit then took on Anzhi in the weekend's most anticipated game. The Anzhi line up was very much depleted relative to recent games over the past couple of seasons. Chris Samba, Willian, Lacina Traore and Lass Diarra were all missing from the squad but Samuel Eto'o did start. Goalkeeper Vladimir Gabulov was dropped to the bench in favour of Mikhail Kerzhakov. It's expected that further departures are expected before the window closes. The match was a one that the home side dominated, Roman Shirokov opened the scoring before Hulk doubled Zenit's lead just before half time. The home side wrapped the game up 15 minutes before the final whistle with full back Cristian Ansaldi scoring on his debut. Anzhi with only 2 points so far this season and they find themselves second bottom at this early stage.

In Saturday's final game, Terek continued their poor start to the season against Lokomotiv. Both teams were seemingly heading towards a drab 0-0 draw which would have probably been a fair result, however the away side scored the winner in injury time through Alexander Samedov who fired a shot into the roof of the net.

On Sunday, CSKA were made to work hard to earn a 1-0 victory against Kuban in Moscow. Ahmed Musa with neat work in the area before shooting past Belenov for the only goal of the game. It was Kuban's first league defeat of 2013, a run which involved three different managers. Both sides had plenty of chances throughout the game Dzagoev and Musa both missing for the home side whereas Kabore, Bucur and Cisse all had chances for Kuban but all failed to convert.

Spartak and Rubin played out another 0-0 draw in typical Rubin fashion which typifies their performances of recent years. Spartak hit the woodwork twice in the match and may feel unlucky not to have taken all three points in the match. The game was played at Lokomotiv's ground due to the athletics taking place at the Luzhniki. It was Rubin's third consecutive 0-0 draw in the RPL.

Tomsk remain the only team without a point in the RPL and nothing in their 1-0 defeat away to Krylya showed that that may change. Krylya were even reduced to 10 men after Ilya Maksimov's challenge Mikhail Komkov saw him see red 10 minutes into the second half. Despite this, the home side took the lead five minutes later through Ibragim Tsalagov with a neat strike from the edge of the area. Tomsk still failed to take control during the remainder of the match which ended in their fifth straight defeat.

Dinamo played out a 1-1 draw Krasnodar, the home side were ahead within 10 minutes through last year's top scorer Wanderson. Only Igor Denisov made the match squad of the recent trio of signings with Yury Zhirkov and Alexander Kokorin both left out. It was then ironic that Dinamo then had to rely upon 18 year old Andrei Panyukov to rescue a point for the away side with only 7 minutes of normal time remaining. It was Panyukov's first career league goal for Dinamo and a point that could be vital in keeping up momentum.

Finally on Monday, Rostov showed why it is they who find themselves top of the league after 5 games with a 4-0 victory over Volga. Jano Ananidze ran the midfield, he scored the opening goal just after the restart before going on to set up Timofey Kalachev and Artem Dzyuba for Rostov's third and fourth goals respectively. Byung-Soo Yoo scored his first goal for the club to thoroughly cement Rostov's place at the top. The away side's misery was also compounded by the fact that Denis Kolodin received a second yellow card for handball on 81 minutes.

Full Results:

Ural 0-0 Amkar
Zenit 3-0 Anzhi
Terek 0-1 Lokomotiv
CSKA 1-0 Kuban
Spartak 0-0 Rubin
Krylya 1-0 Tomsk
Krasnodar 1-1 Dinamo
Rostov 4-0 Volga

Twitter - @FootRussiaLive

Russian Premier League - Round 2 Review

On Friday, there was an expected a good match up between Dinamo and Anzhi in Moscow. And so it turned out to be as the home side ran out 2-1 winners in controversial circumstances. 20 year old Pavel Solomatin opened the scoring for Dinamo after 26 minutes with only his second goal for the club. Anzhi were reduced to 10 men after Ewerthon brought down Solomatin to deny a goalscoring opportunity. The away side finally equalised late on in the second half through a Chris Samba header on 83 minutes in his first start since his return. The controversy came deep into injury time as Marko Lomic aimed a cross, it struck the arm of Carcela from very close range with the penalty being converted by Voronin.

Tomsk were defeated at home to Kuban 1-2. All the action came in the first half as Kuban were 2-0 up after 13 minutes with goals from Ibrahima Balde and a lovely curling effort from Aras Ozbiliz. The home side got a goal back just 10 minutes later through a neatly struck free kick from Kirill Panchenko but the defeat leaves them without a point after two games. Kuban still unbeaten in the league in 2013.

Lokomotiv got their first win of the campaign with a 1-2 win over Volga. A rare goal from Maicon opened the scoring in the second half only for Mulumba Mukendi to equalise just 5 minutes later with his second in as many games. An even rarer goal for Roman Shishkin won the game with 3 minutes left on the clock, it's just his fourth league goal for the club in three years.

Terek and Amkar played out a 1-1 draw in Grozny. Igor Lebedenko opened the scoring after a good run and some fortunate bounces allowed him to be one-on-one with Narubin and slot into the far corner. The away side equalised through Martin Jakubko 10 minutes into the second half.

Rubin completed a fantastic turnaround against Zenit in Kazan. Danny opened the scoring for the away side after just 6 minutes, tapping in a bouncing ball from a yard in a goal-snatching kind of fashion. The home side equalised through Karadeniz after a mistimed bicycle kick ended up with him on the floor with the ball, he was able to quickly get up and slot past the unsuspecting Lodigin.Rubin won the game with another late goal after Solomon Rondon's header escaped the diving Lodigin into the corner of the goal five minutes into injury time to win 2-1.

Spartak did what CSKA couldn't do last week in beating Ural in Yekaterinburg, 0-2. Aiden McGeady scored the first goal five minutes into the second half, just managing to get his foot to a low ball from Pavel Parshivlyuk. Emmanuel Emenike wrapped the game up in the 90th minute after reacting quickest to a McGeady shot hitting the woodwork.

Meanwhile it finished a 2-2 draw between Rostov and Krasnodar. Marcio Abreu opened with a sweetly struck volley from the edge of the area, leaving the goalkeeper with no chance. The away side weren't ahead for long however after Timofey Kalachev equalised just two minutes later. Rostov went ahead in the second half after Artem Dzyuba scored his third goal of the season via the penalty spot after Alexander Martynovich dragged down Gatcan. Wanderson equalsied with two minutes to play to end Rostov's hopes of victory.

And finally, CSKA turned it around against Krylya to win 2-1 in Moscow. It was a manic first 20 minutes as the home side started dreadfully with Georgi Schennikov being sent off after just 8 minutes after pulling down Luis Caballero on the edge of the area. 5 minutes later CSKA got themselves in a mess defensively, resulting in Dzagoev tapping the ankle of Ilya Maksimov in the area to give away a penalty, Maksimov stepped up himself to convert. Krylya had a goal disallowed two minutes later when Maksimov was caught offside after Dragun's header hit the bar. 5 minutes after that, a very soft penalty was awarded to CSKA when Vagner Love was brought down, Dzagoev stepped up but put his kick over the bar. CSKA got better as the game went on with some neat passing displays but the away side held firm. The arrival of Seydou Doumbia kicked off the charge for the home side, just seconds after being introduced, Dzagoev played Doumbia in, he rode a challenge and equalised. 12 minutes later, CSKA were ahead, Taranov brought down Doumbia in the area for the third penalty of the match and the man himself stepped up to score the winner.

Full Results:

Dinamo 2-1 Anzhi            Rubin 2-1 Zenit
Tomsk 1-2 Kuban             Ural 0-2 Spartak
Volga 1-2 Lokomotiv     Rostov 2-2 Krasnodar
Terek 1-1 Amkar              CSKA 2-1 Krylya

Twitter - @FootRussiaLive


CSKA Slip Up at the First Hurdle - Russian Premier League Round-up

Penalty decisions were at the forefront of conversation after the first round of Russian Premier League matches, with a total of 6 penalties given in the space of 8 matches. Some were correct decisions, however some seemed extremely soft for commonplace actions such as holding or shirt pulling. It could be a case of the league trying to clamp down on such activity within the area, how long it will last is unclear though.

Dinamo and Volga got us off to a cracker with a 2-2 draw in Moscow. Volga were 2-0 up within 3 minutes after goals from Aleksandr Shulenin and Mulumba Mukendi. However Dinamo got themselves back into the game before half time with two quick fire goals from debutant Alan Kasaev and Andriy Voronin. The home side, in front of a sparse crowd, had chances in the second half to win but the game finished a draw.

Anzhi and Lokomotiv also played out a 2-2 draw in the following game which failed to liven up until the second half. Anzhi looked the better team throughout but it was the away side who took the lead through Dame N'Doye, Lokomotiv under new manager Leonid Kuchuk. However Anzhi were in the lead with six  minutes to play after two quick goals from an Eto'o deflected shot off Durica and a some good play by Lacina Traore. But in injury time, Roman Pavlyuchenko got ahead of his marker in the area to hit a lovely finish to equalise. There was more late drama as Samuel Eto'o had the chance to win it, two minutes later but his tame penalty was saved by Lokomotiv keeper Guilherme.

10 man Rubin put in a very strong performance away at Kuban. Alexander Ryazantsev was sent off just before half time for a studs up challenge on Kabore. It was Rubin who took the lead on 71 minutes through some very poor defending from Kuban who left Roman Eremenko space in the box to score into the far corner. The home side equalised soon after through the talented Aras Ozbiliz from a 25 yard free kick.

On loan Spartak striker Artem Dzyuba put in a good performance allowing Rostov to turn it around against Terek with a late penalty and an even later header from a Ananidze (also on loan from Spartak) cross.
Amkar were also on the right side of penalty calls as they two in the first ten minutes against promoted Tomsk. Georgi Peev converted both and the game ended 2-0.

Krylya Sovetov lost out at home to Spartak Moscow 1-2. Two goals in as many minutes from new signing Tino Costa and a penalty from Yura Movsisyan seemed to put the game beyond the home side. However they surged in the second half and a goal from Luis Caballero on 60 minutes gave them hope but the game ultimately ended in defeat for them.

The champions, CSKA, slipped up against newly promoted Ural, drawing 2-2. Ahmed Musa put the away side in front midway through the first half but Ural's top scorer last season Spartak Gogniev scored twice in the second half to give the home side a surprise lead. Vagner Love saved some of CSKA's blushes with an equaliser with five minutes to play.

Last year's runner-up Zenit were made to work for the three points away at Krasnodar, winning 1-2. The away side looked in control after Krasnodar gave away two sloppy goals with Faizulin and Danny both finding space in the area after collecting rebounds and slot into an open goal. The home side rallied in the second half and with a goal from last year's joint top scorer Wanderson just after the break, they tried to force an equaliser but Zenit's defence held strong.

Full Results:

Dinamo 2-2 Volga                Amkar 2-0 Tomsk
Anzhi 2-2 Lokomotiv         Krylya 1-2 Spartak
Kuban 1-1 Rubin                   Ural 2-2 CSKA
Rostov 2-1 Terek                  Krasnodar 1-2 Zenit

Twitter - @FootRussiaLive

Russian Transfers Update July 8th-14th

This week saw very little transfer activity compared to last week but with the season having started yesterday and with games throughout the week, activity may pick up again when managers realise where they are short.

However there was still a big transfer in Alexander Kokorin joining Anzhi from Dinamo Moscow for a fee of around €20m. It wasn't something that had been kept quiet and everyone was just waiting for Anzhi to officially announce it. The 22 year old striker is one of Russia's biggest prospects for the future and Anzhi are hoping he fulfills his potential. Many may argue that it is too higher price for Kokorin but, like in England, fees are inflated for Russian players, especially of the quality of Kokorin.
Unfortunately for player and club he will miss the first 4 games of the season due to serving a lengthy ban imposed by the FA after an incident last season.

Elsewhere, Keisuke Honda's future still remains unclear. With reports claiming Milan have reached an agreement with the player for a transfer in January when Honda's contract has expired. However CSKA are willing to reach an agreement with Milan on a fee to transfer the player in the current window. What does seem likely is that Honda will join Milan at some point.

Finally, the midfielder Aleksandr Sapeta has joined newly promoted Ural on loan for a season from Dinamo Moscow and Volga have signed striker Dmitri Sychev on loan from Lokomotiv Moscow.

Twitter - @FootRussiaLive

Russian Transfer Update July 1st-7th

This week saw plenty of transfers to Premier League clubs as we're now only one week away from the start of the new season.

The major transfer that happened was, of course, Chris Samba returning to Anzhi, just 6 months after he had left to join QPR. You could say Anzhi have done well out of this due to buying him for €500k less than what they sold him for. However once Samba had left Anzhi in January, he left a gaping hole in the Anzhi defence of which ultimately cost them in the race for not only the title but a Champions League place.  And you also have to remember that money isn't really an object for Anzhi, so the €500k isn't going to make a difference to them apart from pay Samba's wages for a few months.

Elsewhere Djibril Cisse made a surprise move to the RPL with a move to Krasnodar side Kuban on a free transfer, signing a one year deal with the option for a one year extention. Kuban aren't known for going for big name players on high wages, however Cisse is a good addition to the side who, providing he stays relatively fit, should get goals in the league and provide some much needed experience for their upcoming Europa League campaign.

Meanwhile Kuban's city rivals Krasnodar, completed the signing of striker Gerard Gohou on a free transfer. Gohou scored 19 times in 31 games for Turkish side Kayseri Erciyesspor. Krasnodar also sold goalkeeper Yevgeni Gorodov to fellow RPL side Terek.

Champions CSKA completed the signing of the highly rated Bulgarian midfielder, Georgi Milanov for around €3m. CSKA also signed 21 year old midfielder Steven Zuber from Swiss club Grasshoppers, both players have signed five year deals with the club.

Finally, Rostov have loaned midfielder Jano Ananidze and striker Artem Dzyuba from Spartak Moscow until the end of the season. These two players could be very shrewd business by the club and will definitely be beneficial to the players who should get some much needed game time.


Twitter - @FootRussiaLive

Reading sign Royston Drenthe

Championship side Reading have this morning announced the signing of former Dutch International Royston Drenthe on a permanent deal.

He has penned a two-year contract at the Madejski Stadium with an option of a further year and becomes manager Nigel Adkins second signing of the summer after the aquisition of former Manchester City left back Wayne Bridge.

Drenthe moves to England on a free transfer after his relegation release clause was activated with Russian side Alania Vladikavkaz after their demotion last season.

A player who started his career so brightly with Feyenoord, winning Player of the u21 tournament for Holland in 2007 has seen his career take a huge decline due to his off-field problems over recent years.

After joining Real Madrid for a reported £12.5 million and spending six seasons at the Bernabeu, he spent time on loan at fellow La Liga side Hercules in 2010 and featured on loan at Everton in 2012.

It was at Everton where he performed admirably only to let himself down by being suspended by the club after reportedly taking two girls back to the training ground one night.

After moving on from Real Madid in the summer after six years in Spain, the player was caught speeding in Alicante in his White Ferrari whilst drinking a beer which only aided his rapid decline from football.

He announced he was a changed man earlier this year and that David Moyes had helped him turn his career around where he joined Russian side Alania Vladikavkaz, scoring a hat-trick in one game during his short stint there.

A move to England now takes place and if Nigel Adkins can keep him out of trouble and bring out the best in him, Reading could be onto an absolute winner with his ability unquestionable to help aid their instant return back to the Premier League.

Dynamo Kiev sign Jeremain Lens

Ukranian side Dynamo Kiev have this evening announced the signing of PSV Eindhoven striker Jeremain Lens.

The 25-year old moves to the Olimpiyskiy National Sports Complex on a four-year contract after stating he was looking for a fresh challenge in his career away from the Dutch Eredivisie.

His reported move was mentioned last week on Voetbal International and will move to his new side for a fee believed to be just over £8 million.

The forward has been linked with a move away from his home nation over recent seasons, with a move to the Premier League with Southampton falling through last summer after the club turned their attentions to Zambia forward Emmanuel Mayuka.

Lens has been in impressive form at the Philips Stadion after scoring 34 goals in 96 apperances for the club since joining in 2010 from rivals AZ Alkmaar for a reported fee of £5.5 million.

He completed a medical in the Ukraine yesterday and his contract will earn him just over £1.5 million a season.

Liverpool close on Mignolet and Mkhitaryan

Liverpool are continuing their busy pre-season by closing in on a further two signings in the form of Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Manager Brendan Rodgers has wasted no time in re shaping his side this summer with the capture of Ivory Coast International defender Kolo Toure on a free transfer from Manchester City and the imminent arrival of Celta Vigo striker Iago Aspas for a reported £7 million.

Managing Director Ian Ayre had to cancel commitments in Rio, Brazil to stay in Europe to help push the deals over the finish line.

Belgian International Mignolet has been heavily linked with a move away from the Stadium of Light all summer and a fee of £10 million has reportedly been agreed over the weekend, with the stopper set to undergo a medical and complete personal terms once he returns from his holiday in the Caribbean.

Mkhitaryan is highly regarded at Shakhtar and an offer of around £25 million would be needed to prize the Armenian International away from the Ukrainian Champions which looks feasible with striker Andy Carroll looking set for a £15 million move to West Ham United and goalkeeper Pepe Reina looking set for a move away from Anfield.

The attacking midfielder, 24, has been linked to Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan in recent weeks, although it appears the Reds have already approached the players representatives and a move to England is an opportunity which he would find hard to turn down.

Moves for both Mignolet and Mkhitaryan are likely to ramp up over the coming days and we will be keeping you updated with the progress of both moves here on the Football Family.

Mixed reports on Drenthe move to Reading

It has been confirmed by Reading Evening Post reporter Jonathan Low that Reading are close to signing former Dutch International Royston Drenthe on a three-year contract.

The explosive left sided midfielder has spent time at Real Madrid, Feyernoord, Everton and most recently Alania Vladikavkaz in Russia.

At 26, Drenthe had all the qualities to be one of the best left sides players in Europe, although his background has let him down time and time again during his short career to date.

He started brightly during his spell in the Premier League at Everton before falling out with then manager David Moyes before being told to stay away from the club due to 'reportedly' taking two girls back to the clubs training ground one night...ahem.

Also in Alicante he was stopped and sanctioned for skipping seven red traffic lights in Denia Avenue as he went at 160kmh in his White Ferrari whilst drinking a beer.

On the pitch Drenthe is a powerful and extremely quick winger, and recently scored a hat-trick for Alania Vladikavkaz before they eventually were relegated from Russia's top flight. Due to their demotion, a release clause has allowed him to move on a free transfer.

No official word has been reported on the deal, although mixed messages are coming out from Holland with the Reading reporter stating a medical is set for Tuesday and Royston Drenthe's family reportedly telling RTV Rijnmond in Holland that the player won't join Reading.