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Two months ago Samuel Eto’o complained about the poor quality of the Russian pitches. His opinion has now been confirmed by the results from the Russian pitch competition. On a scale of 1 to 10, 50% of the 14 pitches in the Premier League scored under 4.5.


The Russian Players’ Union PSFT investigated football pitch quality in the Premier League during the final part of the 2011/12 season, i.e. the last 12 matches. Each away team captain scored the pitch right after the game. In total, 14 pitches were rated, used by 16 clubs (two of the pitches were shared by two clubs).


In the end, the strong winners of the Russian pitch competition were Anzhi Makhachkala (play offs Teams 1-8) and Terek Grozny (play-offs 9-16), both in the very south of Russia. Terek (photo) averaged 9.5 points and Anzhi scored 8.9 over six matches.


The results in as many as 50% of the pitches did not scrape above 4.5.


For Vladimir Leonchenko of the Russian Football Union, the outcome of this competition does not come as a surprise. The former Torpedo Moscow player mentions several reasons for the crushing marks given by the Russian captains: ‘The early start of the season had a very negative effect on pitch quality. Zenit and Lokomotiv seriously damaged their pitches during their Europa League matches in mid-February.’


Furthermore, the lack of strict standards is contributing negatively to the quality of the pitches.


Leonchenko: ‘Many players complained about the grass length at Krasnodar. The grass was so high that it slowed down game speed substantially. Most stadiums also have old drainage systems. And there is not one pitch with a mix of natural grass and artificial fibres, used nowadays by half the clubs in the English Premier League. These pitches are far better adapted to poor climate conditions.’


Modern stadiums in southern Russia with a capacity of 15-20,000 could be used for championship and Europa League-matches during the months of February and March. Leonchenko says: ‘But in the last 20 years, stadiums haven’t been built in this part of Russia.’


It is positive that the union’s pitch competition brings to light where the Russian competition falls short. However the conclusions are nothing but negative. Leonchenko states: ‘The league does not have a clearly thought-out plan for football pitch modernization, quality improvement and standard control. Each club solves its problems individually, depending on its management level and their financial situation.’


‘It would help if players’ representatives could participate in pitch licensing. Right now we have no guarantee at all that the situation will be any better next year.’


In 2018, Russia will host the FIFA World Cup.


Stadium Club Average Pitch
Ahmat Arena Terek Grozny 9.5 Natural
Dynamo Anzhi 8.9 Natural
Olymp FC Rostov 8.0 Natural
Spartak Spartak Nalchik 7.2 Natural
Luzhniki Spartak Moscow and CSKA Moscow 7.0 Artificial
Kuban FC Kuban and FC Krasnodar 6.8 Natural
Zvezda FC Amkar 6.0 Artificial
Arena Khimki Dynamo Moscow 4.4 Natural
Metallurg FC Krylia Sovetov Samara 4.2 Natural
Petrovskiy FC Zenit St Petersburg 4.1 Natural
Central FC Rubin Kazan 4.0 Natural
Lokomotiv FC Volga Novgorod 4.0 Natural
Lokomotiv FC Lokomotiv Moscow 3.7 Natural
Trud FC Tomj Tomsk 3.0 Natural