Soviet soccer stories

Germany disbursed a walloping for the ages in 1912 when they beat Russia 16-0. Striker Gottfried Fuchs sensationally managed to score 10 goals. Twenty-five years later, Fuchs was forced to migrate to France. The Jewish footballer moved to Canada in 1940 as the Nazis invaded Western Europe.

This is just one of the many spectacular stories about Russian football in “Russkij Futbol”, a book which contains essays by a University of California lecturer, a guidebook author and a former Süddeutsche Zeitung correspondent covering Eastern Europe.

As the 2018 World Cup will be kicked off in Moscow tomorrow, “Russkij Futbol” tells from the press feedback after the memorable defeat in 1912 but also informs about the tragic fate of some of the players who were arrested or killed in World War Two.

The book – which features several lovely historical photographs – looks back on the first football league of the country which was set up by Brits in 1901. Furthermore, “Russkij Futbol” delivers fascinating insights on lopsided championships in the Soviet Union and the development of some sort of fan culture. Contrary to popular misconception, Spartak Moscow’s following established supporters groups 15 years before the decline of the Soviet Union.

“Russkij Futbol” reveals why the reaction of the vast majority of Russians is rather tepid when some club announces the acquisition of another top foreign player. But the authors also investigate the ideological element of sports during the country’s communist era when ideals such as braveness and determination were held in veneration – at least by Politburo officials.

Russkij Futbol. Ein Lesebuch
By Stephan Felsberg, Tim Köhler & many others
Published by Verlag Die Werkstatt (

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