Natural Gas Company Novatek Takes Over Sponsorship Of Russian Football Union
Russia’s second-largest natural gas producer, Novatek, has signed an agreement to become the new sponsor of the Russian Football Union (RFS). Novatek Chair Leonid Mikhelson said, “Football is certainly the most beloved sport in our country.” Novatek is a privately-owned upstart rival to state-controlled behemoth Gazprom. Mikhelson: “This year, the dream of numerous [Russian] fans has come true, and our squad will be taking part in the FIFA World Cup. We are glad to become the Russian Football Union’s partner, and it’s also prestigious.” Novatek did not reveal the value of the contract or any other details. RFS’ contract with the previous sponsor, Gazprom, which expired in late '12, was estimated to be 80M rubles ($2.5M) a year. However, a substantial chunk of RFS’ bill was until recently footed by Roman Abramovich’s National Football Academy. That organization, which paid the national squad’s coaches’ salaries, said earlier this year it was cutting back on funding Russian football. RFS President Nikolai Tolstykh said, “I am sure that cooperation with Novatek will allow us to combine efforts in the development of [football], it will be conducive for the implementation of tasks set forth for the Russian Football Union, including preparation for the 2018 World Cup.”
Vladimir Kozlov is a writer in Moscow.