New Russian Football Union president Sergei Fursenko has visited UEFA – and has emphasised Russia's passion for the game and the importance of the relationship with the European body.
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The new president of the Russian Football Union (RFS), Sergei Fursenko, has paid a visit to the House of European Football in Nyon.
Mr Fursenko, who was voted in as president in February, met UEFA president Michel Platini and general secretary Gianni Infantino. The RFS president also met officials from UEFA's national associations division for talks which focused in particular on UEFA's relations with the Russian association and assistance to Russia under the UEFA HatTrick programme.
"I'm very glad to be here, and I thank Michel Platini for his time," Mr Fursenko told UEFA.com. "We have had major discussions about the development of football. We are deeply involved in UEFA as part of the football family, because of the competitions and through the spirit of this organisation. The talks were very useful, because I have only been president for a month. I feel a part of this distinguished team."
Mr Fursenko underlined the importance of the cooperation between UEFA and the RFS, and the crucial nature of the assistance given by UEFA, most notably through its HatTrick scheme. "We have to develop our association and our football," he stressed. "Help is very important for our country, because the climate is not so easy. It's very important to build artificial pitches. This is especially very important for our children."
Russia is a country which has a huge passion for the game. On the club front, Russian sides have twice captured the UEFA Cup in recent times, thanks to PFC CSKA Moskva in 2005 and FC Zenit St. Petersburg in 2008. Zenit also won the UEFA Super Cup that same year, and excitement reached fever pitch when the national team performed impressively as semi-finalists at UEFA EURO 2008 in Austria and Switzerland.
"Football is the No1 sport in Russia, nearly 2 million people play football," the RFS president went on. "When our team won the match against the Netherlands [3-1 in Basel to reach the EURO semi-finals], millions of people were on the streets, waving flags, crying and laughing. It was a real holiday for everybody. We're a very open people, and all the emotions came out immediately."
As for what happens next, Mr Fursenko and the RFS are viewing the future with optimism, on and off the field. "It's important to have big aims," he said. "If you have [such aims] you can organise everything and motivate everybody around you." With a reservoir of talented players and the confidence that positive results can bring, Russian clubs have every chance of adding to their recent silverware.