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Can a woman lead a football club? In Russia they say no. Sport Executive brings you the story of Olga Smorodskaya.

BY TOKE MØLLER THEILADE Moscow is unique in terms of its number of top quality football clubs. Five clubs from Russia’s capital competed in the Russian Premier League last season, and even though the matches in the city are not always well attended, the proud football history of the city is visible throughout the city. All over Moscow stickers with the logos of the five clubs, Torpedo, Spartak, CSKA, Dinamo and Lokomotiv can be found, just like statues of Soviet football legends, if you look in the right places. One example is the statue of the ‘Soviet Pélé’, Eduard Streltsov, that stands next to the old ZIL Plant close to the Avtozavodskaya Metro station. Near the former Lenin Stadium, the current Luzhniki, a statue of the ‘Black Spider’, Lev Yashin, can be found, while another is placed in front of the old Dinamo Stadium. The city is also filled with graffiti made by the different ultras groups, and while the graffiti in front of Eduard Streltsov Stadium, where Torpedo reside, is a beautiful tribute to the club’s history, some



of the walls painted by Lokomotiv’s fans is, at best, hostile. One place the words “You die, we dance” is placed next to a picture of the club president, Olga Smorodskaya, and another place a man wearing a balaclava is slitting Smorodskaya’s throat next to the red-green logo of the Railroaders. A MALE CONTROLLED WORLD To understand the background and reason for these extreme statements we need to go back to 2010, when Lokomotiv appointed Smorodskaya as the new president. The 59 year old Smorodskaya experienced the fans’ resistance immediately after her appointment as president for Lokomotiv. During the Soviet era Lokomotiv was owned by the Soviet Ministry of Transportation through what is today the Russian Railways. In the years prior to the Second World War they competed among the top Soviet clubs with the victory in the Soviet Cup in 1936 as the highlight. Despite the

early success the fans had to wait until 2002 before the club won its first league title. By then the Soviet regime was long gone, but the club was still sponsored and owned by the Russian Railways, and thus the Russian state. The man who raised the Red-Greens from the succumb they experienced before the fall of the East Bloc was Yuri Semin, a legendary Russian coach from the city of Orenburg, close to the Kazakh border. Semin coached Lokomotiv between 1992 and 2005 and again from 2009 to 2010 when Smorodskaya was hired. As a woman Smorodskaya experienced some expected trouble when she entered the male controlled football world, but it was actually her job history that created the biggest problems for her in the beginning as Stefano Conforti, editor-in-chief at the independent English Lokomotiv magazine ‘FCLM Magazine’ and Lokomotiv Moscow Network, told me: “As soon as Smorodskaya was appointed president, the fans started a campaign against her because of

Profile for Lars Andersson

Sport Executive August 15  

Sport Executive er et gratis magasin på nettet om sport. Sport er den hurtigst voksende branche i dette årtusinde – såvel i Danmark som worl...

Sport Executive August 15  

Sport Executive er et gratis magasin på nettet om sport. Sport er den hurtigst voksende branche i dette årtusinde – såvel i Danmark som worl...