The Russian U21 national football team is being overseen by the Russian Football Union. The team participates in the biannual U21 European Football Championship and international friendlies. The team also participates in the qualification for the Olympic Games.
Today football is the most popular in Russia and beats hockey. A very high proportion of men are interested in this to some degree (and many children play regularly), and women also join men when it comes to the national team. The Russian league is rapidly regaining strength through large sponsorship deals, a cash inflow, and a fairly high level of competitiveness with about 5 teams able to win the title. Russian top teams are usually sponsored by state-controlled companies. Gazprom sponsors Zenit Saint Petersburg, Lukoil sponsors FC Spartak Moscow, Russian Railways sponsors FC Lokomotiv Moscow etc. Many notable talented foreign players have been and are active in the Russian league, as well as local talented players who deserve a place in the starting eleven have eleven of the best clubs. Foreign players sometimes face a very hostile environment. A problem of racism in Russian football is particularly important.
The Russian national team gained attention when they defeated in the quarter-finals of the Euro 2008, the traditional European powerhouse Netherlands 3-1, before losing to the eventual champions Spain. Nevertheless, four players made the team of the tournament. Some players, including Andrei Arshavin and Roman Pavlyuchenko, have made a lot of money after their impressive tournament in the English Premier League. Currently, the majority of Russian footballers play in a home league, mainly due to restrictions on foreign players. This results in a significant imbalance in player salaries, as Russian footballers receive more than their foreign counterparts because of their nationality.
As a result, the Russian Premier League is one of the best in Eastern Europe, as shown by recent wins in the UEFA Cup (CSKA Moscow defeated Sporting CP in the 2005 final and Zenit St. Petersburg won Rangers FC in 2008 in the 2008 UEFA Cup) and won the UEFA Super Cup 2-1 against Manchester United.)
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