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Did Foreign Coach Fail Team Russia?

Published: July 4, 2014 (Issue # 1818)



  • The early termination of Capello's contract, which expires in 2018, would cost the Russian Football Federation millions.
    Photo: Ivan Sekretarev / AP

In their search for a scapegoat for Team Russia's dismal performance at the World Cup, Russian football fans have focused on two lines in coach Fabio Capello's resume: nationality and salary requirements.

Capello, 68, is an experienced Italian club team coach, but has had a patchy track record with national teams. He is also the highest paid of all trainers at the World Cup.

The coaches of 15 of the 32 teams playing in the World Cup are not citizens of the nations they are representing. The trainers of six of the remaining eight squads vying for the World Cup title — including Brazil, Germany, Argentina and the Netherlands — were born in the countries they are coaching.

While a variety of factors can influence a squad's performance at the World Cup, in the current tournament, having a native coach appears to contribute to a team's success. This factor, according to Russian football analysts, is even more crucial for Team Russia.

"Russia has its particularities," Yevgeny Lovchev, a Soviet footballer who played in the 1970 World Cup and the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, told The St. Petersburg Times. "Russians have a different mentality. They are not like Europeans. We understand which buttons to press and how people will respond. Foreigners cannot grasp this."

After the Russian men's national hockey team was humiliated on home ice at the Sochi Olympic Games in February, coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov was sacked. While other national hockey federations — including those of Latvia and Belarus — resorted to foreign coaching expertise long ago, the president of the Russian Hockey Federation insisted that the team's next coach would definitely be homegrown.

But while the issue of foreign hockey coaches is problematic in Russia, there have been internationals among the football squad's training staff for nearly a decade. Dutch nationals Guus Hiddink and Dick Advocaat headed Team Russia before Capello.

Unlike hockey, football is not considered innate to Russia, despite the sport's long history in the country, insiders said. The rainfall of petrodollars over the past decade has led to a shift of mentality, boosting the belief that it is more effective to buy advanced technologies from abroad than develop them at home. The world's best football trainers — much like kitchen appliances or leather shoes — come from Europe, and the hiring of Capello is just another example of Russia buying a shiny object from abroad, they said.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Nov. 26


AmCham’s Public Relations Committee will meet this afternoon in their office in the New St. Isaac’s Office Center on Ulitsa Yakubovicha at 4 p.m.


Zoosphere, an international exhibition focusing on the pet industry, opens today at the Lenexpo convention center on Vasilievsky Island. Not only will items such as toys, terrariums and accessories be available for purchase, but animal enthusiasts can also learn about the latest in veterinary medicine and behavioral training thanks to the conferences and presentations that are part of the event.



Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg’s showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the team’s website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literature’s most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poet’s birthday. The tragic tenor’s work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russia’s greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test one’s intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only man’s best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during today’s reenactment titled “Winter War: How it Was.” More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie “Black Cat, White Cat,” as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of “Takoy Festival,” a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonight’s festival finale is “Fathers and Sons,” a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenev’s classic about familial relations.



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