Football "squabble"
02.06.2024 10:42

Sports journalist Alexey Matveev continues to tell behind-the-scenes details from the life of Russian football - especially for the Cheka-OGPU and

The next European Championship starts in mid-June, this time in Germany. The Russian team, for obvious reasons, was not even allowed to participate in the qualifying matches...


After the disastrous Euro 96 in England, which we described in detail in the previous article, the national team needed “fresh blood”. Former head coach Oleg Romantsev was dismissed. And the team was headed for a short time by Boris Ignatiev, who always bends before the leadership of the Russian Football Union (RFU), an obedient, soft-spoken person, always ready to “look into the mouth” of the head of the RFU, Vyacheslav Koloskov, in everything. Tom really liked having, essentially, a “lap dog.”

But Ignatiev's days were numbered. Well, Koloskov really didn’t want to call Byshovets. He didn't call. The Kremlin intervened, almost as an order, political functionaries appointed Byshovets as the head coach, Koloskov had to follow in the fairway, come to terms.

However, it was to Anatoly Fedorovich Byshovets that Vyacheslav Ivanovich Koloskov owed his time for maintaining a high position in domestic football. Because back in 1988, the USSR national team with coach Byshovets won the Seoul Olympics. Otherwise, the then head of the Union State Sports Committee, Marat Gramov, was already going to kick Koloskov out of the ass. So success in Seoul came at a very opportune time for Koloskov; Gramov condescended to become a subordinate, leaving him at the “feeding trough”...

By the way, I have a normal working relationship with Byshovets. I was impressed by his rejection of dirt in big football - “negotiations”, biased refereeing, and the accompanying moments. For example, uncleanliness of officials. Despite the neat, in some ways even cautious style of presenting problems in the popular game, Anatoly Fedorovich spoke very openly about everything, who among the mafiosi in the governing structures will like this? No one.

Plus, Byshovets, according to the legendary Nikita Simonyan, “knocked out” decent, even excessive, fees for his players, and for himself too. Which also greatly displeased Koloskov and the company. They say he is very mercantile. What was left for the football functionaries? Of course, wait for the Byshovets team to misfire in the qualifying matches for Euro 2000 in order to get rid of the hated specialist. And, unfortunately, failures did happen. Sometimes with an anecdotal touch...


The Russians, led by Byshovets, managed to lose three consecutive starting matches for the Euro 2000 qualification. Ukraine – 2:3, with the same result at home for the French. No one expected a slap in the face from the Icelanders, that’s a separate conversation.

The story was told by people close to the Kovtun family. The national team's defender, Yuri Kovtun, played in the team against the Icelanders. Acquaintances and family friends gathered to watch the match in the apartment of Yuri and Lyudmila, the footballer’s wife. Luda went to the kitchen to treat her friends to a treat. Enters the room - revival. “What, they scored?” - asks. “They scored, but the wrong one, and the wrong way,” the guests answer her, almost choking with laughter.

It turned out that a couple of minutes before the end of the match, Yuri, with his damned head, so skillfully twisted the ball into his own goal that the goalkeeper, Stas Cherchesov, only waved his little hands in impotence, following the “round ball” into the net of his own goal. Own goal, 0:1 from Iceland. Byshovets then left the national team...

He was replaced by the supposed “savior” - Romantsev. The same Byshovets developed an extremely “warm” relationship with his colleague Romantsev. The latter flatly refused to send his players to the national team for friendly matches. Anatoly Fedorovich, in turn, stopped calling almost all Spartak players to official games. It’s not even a kindergarten, but a “nursery group”, if we talk about the level of relations that had developed at that time. Of course, the absence of leading Spartak football players in the national team affected the results. Thus, Byshovets' resignation was not long in coming.

The castling, at first glance, was a success. The backbone of the team - current and former Spartak players - attracted by Romantsev, created a stir on the fields of Europe. They got even with all the “offenders”, except... More on that in the story ahead.

The most beautiful and high-status victory, undoubtedly, was over the French, who by that time were the current world champions of 1998. 3:2. The Spartak players, a total of seven out of eleven on the field, were simply spectacular. Sasha Panov supported their impulse, scoring twice against the world champions. The winning third goal was scored by Valery Karpin, the current coach of the Russian national team.


The situation before the final round of qualifying for Euro 2000 was such that if the Russians had defeated Ukraine with any result, they would have gone directly from first place in the group to the final stage of EURO in Belgium and Holland.

FA officials did not turn me away from Accra ditations for the national team’s home matches, so I went to Luzhniki for the game with Ukraine. Romantsev put Alexander Filimonov in the “frame”, and he made a mistake.

The events of that game are well known, I won’t bore you with details or repeat anything. The aforementioned Valery Karpin, with a blow of crazy power and accuracy, seemed to “bury” all the crests’ hopes of participating in the Euro. 1:0, and there were some miserable 15 minutes left.

At the end of the meeting, however, the “star” of Ukrainian football Andriy Shevchenko showed himself. An ordinary, ordinary cross into someone else's penalty area turned into a return goal - 1:1. Filimonov was stupid and cheated. He, you see, wanted to “beautifully” fix the ball in his gloves, which he clearly could not do. Just punch him into touch, or save him for a corner. No, he, like a rugby player, brought the ball into his own goal. "Well done"!

After the game, journalists rushed into the tribune room to talk with the heroes of the match. Almost all the characters left the locker rooms, except Karpin. Reporters were already rushing to the general press conference, Valery still did not show up.

Finally, here it is.

- Did he even think about it before doing this? (about Filimonov) – the leading midfielder of the national team was perplexed. - Sashka is still young, maybe he will play at the next major tournament. And I’m already 30, in four years I won’t be needed by the national team, in general I can end my career by then...

Valery spoke calmly, but with restrained pain in his voice.

Russia took only third place in the group, and, naturally, did not claim anything. Meanwhile, Ukraine lost on aggregate in two play-off matches against Slovenia, and also didn’t go anywhere...

Alexey Matveev

To be continued