Sports in Russia

The most popular sport in Russia is football. According to Yandex search analysis results rating of the most popular sports among Russians: “Football topped the list of the most popular sports in Russia” with 5 to 10 million requests. Ice hockey came in second with handball, basketball, boxing, auto racing, volleyball, athletics, tennis and chess rounding out the top ten rankings. Other popular sports include bandy, biathlon, figure skating, weightlifting, gymnastics, wrestling, martial arts, rugby union, and skiing.


Football (also known as soccer) is the number one sport in the country. A high proportion of men are interested in it to a certain extent (and many children play it regularly) and women also join men when it comes to the national team. The Russian league has a fairly high degree of competitiveness. Many notable talented foreign players have been and are playing in the Russian league as well as local talented players worthy of a spot in the starting eleven of the best clubs. Russia was awarded the FIFA World Cup 2018 on December 2, 2010. Russia will host the tournament for the first time.

Beach soccer is a popular sport in Russia since its international growth in the late 1990s and with the establishment of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup by the national teams of the member associations of FIFA. Russia is amongst the most successful and dominant country of sports along with Brazil, Spain and Portugal.

When the USSR broke up into 15 different countries, the once renowned sports structure of the union collapsed. Football was the second most popular sport in the Soviet Union. While the national teams and the clubs used to be linked to state institutions or mass organizations, in 1991 some of them became private enterprises. Just like in many other spheres of business, corrupt and sometimes bloody division of power began. Furthermore, many teams of the erstwhile Soviet Top League, which was once considered to be one of the strongest and was able to compete with those of England and Italy, were now divided between the national football associations of the newly independent republics. Many of the top brand names lost their financing from the government and were left to rot, waiting for some forms of sponsorship. Citizens of Russia are interested mostly in the national team that gets to compete in the World Cup and the European Championship, and in the Premier league, where clubs from different cities look to become champions of Russia. There are also competitions considered less important, such as the Russian Cup. Some of the most successful clubs include Spartak Moscow, Lokomotiv Moscow, CSKA Moscow, Zenit St. Petersburg, Dynamo Moscow and FC Torpedo Moscow.

The federation was founded on November 12, 1991 as “Ice Hockey Federation of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic / Ice Hockey Federation of Russia” (Russian: Федерация Xoккея Российской Советской Федеративной Социалистической Республики / Russian: Федерация хоккея России) established during the existence of the Soviet Union and the Russian SFSR.

On January 19, 1992 after the Soviet Union was dissolved and Russia took over the international rights and obligations of the USSR, the federation became the official successor of the Soviet Union Ice Hockey Federation and its successes and its full membership in the International Ice Hockey Federation.


Gold medals (2002, 2011, 2013), 5 silver medals (1993, 1998, 2000, 2007, 2010), 6 bronze medals (1997, 1997, 2001, 2006, 2008, 2009). The Russian women’s national volleyball team is ranked number 6 in the FIVB World Rankings. Record for achievements of the Russian women’s volleyball team: 2 Olympic silver medals (2000 and 2004) 2 FIVB World Championships gold medals (2006 and 2010) 1 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Champions Cup gold medal (1997), 1 silver medal (2001), and 1 bronze medal (1993). The Russian volleyball junior team continue to excel, in the FIVB men ranking for junior and youth, Russia is placed first the men.


One traditionally popular sport is bandy (informally called “Russian hockey”). It’s considered a national sport, and is one of the biggest spectator sports. According to one survey, it is the third most popular sport in Russia. Most of the modern rules were written in England by Charles Goodman Tebbutt, but the Russians claim to be the inventors of the game, and indeed there were bandy-like games played in Russia before the modern rules were standardized. When Federation of International Bandy was founded in 1955, by the Soviet Union and three Nordic countries, a common set of rules were agreed upon. Mostly the English ruled prevailed. However, one important exception was the boards from the Soviet rules.

The Soviet national team won all the Bandy World Championships from the start 1957 until 1979. Russia is almost always one of the two best and has never missed out on a medal. The attendance has decreased in the last few years. It’s still one of the biggest spectator sports though. After 10 rounds of the 2011-2012 Russian Bandy League the average attendance was 3,887. The club with biggest public support is HC Kuzbass from Kemerovo. About 26,000 watched the opening game against Dynamo Moscow. Yenisey is the current (2015) champion of the domestic league.


Speed skating has a long tradition of excellence since the Russian Empire with Nikolay Strunnikov being one of the pioneers in speed skating, then in the Soviet Union with Speed Skating greats Lidiya Skoblikova, Maria Isakova, the Stenins, Pavel Pegov, Lyudmila Titova, Sergey Khlebnikov, Yuri Mikhaylov, Natalya Petrusyova, Oleg Goncharenko, Inga Artamonova, Pavel Pegov, Tamara Rylova, Nina Statkevich, Nikolay Gulyayev, Igor Malkov, Galina Stepanskaya, Boris Shilkov, Tatyana Averina, Viktor Kosichkin, Klara Guseva, Valery Muratov, Sergey Marchuk, Maria Isakova, Oleg Bozhev, Yevgeny Grishin, Yevgeny Kulikov. Even after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation has maintained success in Speed Skating with Svetlana Bazhanova, Aleksandr Golubev, Yevgeny Lalenkov, Svetlana Zhurova, Dmitry Lobkov, Dmitry Dorofeyev, Sergey Klevchenya, Olga Fatkulina, Ivan Skobrev, Olga Graf, Aleksey Yesin. Among the new generation of Russian talents in Speed Skating taking the World Championships and World Cup titles include Natalya Voronina, Denis Yuskov, Pavel Kulizhnikov, Elizaveta Kazelina, and Ruslan Murashov.


Figure skating is another popular sport in Russia; in the 1960s the Soviet Union rose to become a dominant power in figure skating, especially in pairs skating and ice dancing. At every Winter Olympics from 1964 through 2006, a Soviet or Russian pair won gold, often considered the longest winning streak in modern sports history. The streak ended in 2010 when a Chinese pair won gold in 2010 Winter Olympics, a Russian pair returned to winning gold in pairs at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Even after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia still produced multiple Olympic and World Champions in figure skating notably Alexei Urmanov, Ilia Kulik, Alexei Yagudin, Evgeni Plushenko, Maria Butyrskaya, Irina Slutskaya, Adelina Sotnikova, Yulia Lipnitskaya, Maya Usova, Alexander Zhulin, Oksana Grishuk, Evgeni Platov, Anjelika Krylova, Oleg Ovsyannikov, Tatiana Navka, Roman Kostomarov, Ekaterina Gordeeva, Sergei Grinkov, Natalia Mishkutenok, Artur Dmitriev, Tatiana Totmianina, Maxim Marinin, Elena Berezhnaya, Anton Sikhuralidze, Tatiana Volosozhar, Maxim Trankov, Ksenia Stolbova, Fedor Klimov, Elena Ilinykh, Nikita Katsalapov, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Evgenia Medvedeva, Elena Radionova.

The Russian Figure Skating Championships are held annually to determine the national champions of Russia. Skaters compete at the senior level in the disciplines of men’s singles, women’s singles, pair skating, and ice dancing. The first Russian national competition was held on March 5, 1878 in St. Petersburg, Russian Empire. The winner was V. I. Sreznevski. From 1897–present, official Russian national championships in figure skating were held. The first national champion of Russia in figure skating was Alexandr Nikitich Panshin, who won the Russian nationals from 1897 to 1900.

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