August 04, 2021

Are You Ready for Some... Football?


Are You Ready for Some... Football?
An unlikely football jersey. Ruslan Tokhtiev at https://vk.com/rt_photo

Amerikansky futbol is alive and well in Russia, believe it or not. You probably missed the Russian Super Bowl this past weekend, with the Moscow Spartans beating the Moscow Patriots 13-3.

The professional league is called the Eastern European Super League (EESL), and about 95 percent of the players are Russian. A smattering of foreigners also play, hailing from (of course) the United States, China, Kenya, and a few other countries. The EESL has 40 teams across Russia and Belarus.

The championship-winning Moscow Spartans have three Americans on staff, including head coach Keary Iarussi.

Most of the equipment for American football has to be ordered from the United States. But the sport has been around in Russia long enough now that players can often find what they need secondhand.

The first football games were played in the Soviet Union in 1989, when high school all-star teams came to Moscow. A college Glasnost Bowl was slated for 1989 in Moscow, but apparently there was not enough openness. The game was canceled. By 2002, after the trauma of the post-Soviet transition had diminished, Russian American football was well established.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, games would attract about 100-200 spectators. American football in Russia has a small but loyal fanbase and is growing in popularity. Check out the cool culture-mashing Super Bowl photographs here.

Football reporters
Russian American football has media too. / Ruslan Tokhtiev, https://vk.com/rt_photo

 

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