Vasily Utkin: A call to the next world
27.03.2024 19:15

On March 23, a farewell ceremony took place in Moscow for journalist and sports commentator Vasily Utkin. It took place at the morgue of the Central Clinical Hospital of the Administration of the President of the Russian Federation in Kuntsevo. Then the coffin with the body of Vasily Utkin was taken to the Nikolsko-Trubetskoye cemetery in Balashikha. Vasily Utkin died on March 19, 2024. He was 52 years old.

I still don’t really believe in the death of Vasily Utkin. It was as if something vital had been torn apart inside. I feel like it won’t grow together. These are the feelings.

Journalist Alexey Matveev - especially for the Cheka-OGPU and about Vasily Utkin.

I called him literally, as it turned out, days before his death. I wanted to see him, talk, for example, about the topic of relationships with the notorious young lady Tina Kandelaki, the current producer of the MATCH TV channel. In general, let’s talk about television “cuisine”, morals behind the scenes. Is it easy to become an outcast on TV who can be driven away overnight?

Well, let’s also find out more details about what the “star” of sports broadcasting is doing now, and maybe talk about Vasily’s personal life. But I almost heard a rebuke.

- What for? “The topic is not at all interesting to me,” I heard on the phone. – If you really want to, I’ll publish it myself on Internet resources, and everyone will read it.

A few days later, Vasily passed away... I was struck by the death of a still young man because Vasily’s mother, Natalya Igorevna, answered the question about her son’s health quite affirmatively, saying that everything was fine. Only my son now lives not in the Moscow region, but in the capital. Sometimes he comes to visit her, that’s all.



I am impressed by people who touch on sensitive topics in football, although there are only a few of them. Vasily is one of them. Perhaps there is no one else to name, among television journalists - certainly not. Also, probably, father and son Vinokurov, not a lot, right?

In the 90s, I was heartily glad that a person had appeared who was capable of speaking so poignantly about the behind-the-scenes passions of big-time football, woven from particles of impenetrable dirt. Either Vasily would kick Romantsev for Spartak’s lackluster play, then... He kicked him so much that the opportunist, the then press attache Alexander Lvov, wrote angry letters to Utkin on behalf of the famous club and Romantsev himself: they say, how dare this kid touch the holy of holies, - Dearest Oleg Ivanovich, in his person the red and white team. At some point, the still young Vasily somewhat wavered, became confused by such an onslaught of older, experienced people, and began to apologize straight from the screen. I remember that Utkin was even removed from the air for criticizing the Spartak coach, but that was a temporary retreat. Soon the journalist continued to denounce the hapless managers from the “red-white” camp; no Lviv could stop Utkin...

The story of Utkin’s confrontation with the CSKA football club, if you think about it, is absolutely amazing! Vasily, on the pages of Soviet Sport, openly informed readers, without any hints, about the “negotiated” nature of the army team’s match against Rostov. This happened in 2006.

And he justified why he thinks so. That the Rostov players deliberately left their opponents from CSKA exposed in their own penalty area and even in the goalkeeper's area. They played “giveaway”, allowing the Muscovites to score the goals they “needed” without interference. 2:1 – CSKA won then. If you can call it a win. By the way, this is a championship season for the army team.

CSKA President Evgeny Giner and his inner circle demanded refutations and threatened legal proceedings. Sovsport and Utkin himself were in no hurry to refute anything. Indeed, representatives of CSKA filed a claim in court, demanding satisfaction. And the Moscow Arbitration satisfied the demands of the “offended”, deciding to refute the information about the allegedly “fixed” match. Also, according to the arbitration decision, the editorial board was obliged to pay a state fee in the amount of two thousand rubles, which is ridiculous in today’s times.

It took a lot of nerves and time to repel a serious, massive attack. After all, the reputation of the newspaper and the journalist himself is at stake. Utkin and the editors filed an appeal. In May 2007, the appeal court, by its decision, overturned the arbitration verdict. And he completely refused to the leadership of the army club their demands. CSKA paid a penalty of one thousand rubles to the editors, and the same amount to the author of the sensational publication. Everything went well, even ended well!

Thus, Vasily seemed to make it clear to his colleagues: guys, don’t be afraid of anything, go for it. Purity of football is worth it. But the sluggish, amorphous journalists didn’t even try to be daring following Utkin’s example. Until now, by the way.



Vasily’s sharp attacks, as we see, could not remain without consequences for the journalist. Even before the story with the publication in Sovsport, in the fall of 2001, Utkin was almost killed. This is necessary, he sat calmly on a bench in the park, didn’t bother anyone, just rested. Some freak crept up from behind and stabbed me in the back several times with a sharpener or a knife. He survived, thank God, no vital organs were hit. But then I had to go to the clinic. I know what this is like from my own experience. True, they cut my face in 1994, seven years later they stabbed Vasily in the back.

The first impulse was to visit the unfortunate man in the hospital, talk to him, and support him unobtrusively. I started calling NTV. They answered something incomprehensible: they say that Vasily is in a “closed” hospital, you can’t visit him, etc. Well, okay, communication had to be postponed.

I cannot say for sure who ordered the attack on Vasily and why. There were a lot of people who wanted to get even with him in such an absurd, wild way. He clearly “got” the powers that be, so to speak, from the football environment. Critical mass has reached its apogee.

I remember how the coach of Vladikavkaz “Alania” Valery Gazzaev literally splashed with saliva. In 1996, I talked to him at the hotel literally the day before the “golden” match of the southerners with Moscow Spartak, in St. Petersburg. And Valery Georgievich did not hide his negativity towards the journalist Utkin, whom he “very much disliked”. And why did Vasily annoy the famous specialist so much? Plus add here the previously mentioned semi-criminal figures from the Spartak camp with their odious press attache. Well, other characters also had a grudge against Utkin; it’s impossible to list them all, and it’s not necessary.

Sometimes Vasily, who seemed to have matured for a long time, behaved like a child. I was seriously offended by the remark of a stupid woman named Kandelaki. She, apparently, in a fit of emotion, called the somewhat overweight-looking Utkin “fatbass.” So what?

The directive she voiced to “start building a sports editorial office from scratch” looked a little more serious. Said a lady who knew nothing about the intricacies of sports journalism. Utkin just snorted and left MATCH TV. He did not get lost, however, clearly manifesting himself in different guises, including in the field of a blogger.

This is how I will remember him - somewhat naive, touchy, nevertheless, a pure person, and, nevertheless, an extraordinary journalist. No matter what anyone says about him...

Alexey Matveev