Roman Abramovich remains the owner of London's Chelsea FC, where he spent more than £120 million ($185 million) in the first season following acquisition of the club. At the same time, according to Forbes Magazine, the businessman has refused to fund the preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup to be held in Russia. Source: Reuters/Vostock Photo
Roman Abramovich has decided to stop funding football in Russia, John Mann, a representative of Millhouse, a company controlled by Abramovich, said on Tuesday. “This concerns the activities of the National Football Academy (NFA) Fund, which is discontinuing its operations,” Mann said.
“This news is hardly surprising,” said Sergey Kapkov, chairman of the NFA board. “We have fulfilled all the objectives which were set for the NFA: we have created the facilities, and the training system has been developed with the help of Dutch coaches. Now there is no need for the level of funding that we had in the early stage.”
The activities of the NFA have given a lot to Russian football. For several years, this money has been used to fund the building of about 130 pitches with artificial surfaces and to support various training programmes for children.
It is worth noting that the most famous of the NFA's projects was completed back in 2010, when Guus Hiddink left the position of head coach of the Russian national team. The Dutchman, as well as his entire staff and coaching staff of the Russian junior teams, received salaries from funds transferred by the NFA to the Russian Football Union (RFU) as donations. The amount of money used to fund all the teams annually by the NFA totalled over €20 million (according to some unofficial information, the salary of Hiddink alone was €7 million).
However, after Sergey Fursenko became head of the RFU (he left this position after the Euro 2012 tournament was over), Gazprom-owned companies became the main source of funding for the organisation.
Since then, the fund has focused mainly on two less prominent projects: constructing football fields; and supporting the Konoplyov Togliatti Football Academy, which in recent years has become one of the most effective specialised training centres. For example, CSKA and Russia midfielder Alan Dzagoyev is a graduate of the Konoplyov Academy.
Roman Abramovich continues as owner of London's Chelsea FC, where he only spent more than £120 million in the first season after acquisition of the club. At the same time, the businessman has refused to fund the preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup to be held in Russia, according to Forbes Magazine.
First published in Russian in Kommersant.
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