Open to work: help plug Russia’s international talent drain
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TransferRoom Blog

On the Move
League Focus
Open to work: help plug Russia’s international talent drain
by Jonathan Rest

With all the focus on international players in Russia and Ukraine being given licence to move on loan for the remainder of the 2021-22 season, what is the immediate future for the many international football operations staff working in the country?

Of course, this is a sensitive topic. There are people high up at the clubs who trust that we will stay. But we all know we need to look for options now. We are open to opportunities.
Football Operations Executive
Russian Premier League club

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, FIFA’s ruling on March 7 gave foreign players in Russia "the right to unilaterally suspend their employment contracts” until the end of June 2022.


But foreign coaching staff are essentially allowed to terminate their contracts and leave the country immediately.


Some managers have taken up that option, with Germans Daniel Farke and Markus Gisdol, managers of FC Krasnodar and Lokomotiv Moscow, respectively, leaving their clubs.


Farke stepped down without managing a single game, having only been appointed in January on a two-and-a-half year deal. His assistants Edmund Riemer, Chris Domogalla and Christopher John also left.


Ukrainian Andriy Voronin, Dynamo Moscow’s assistant coach, unsurprisingly left the club with immediate effect.


Those away from the sidelines are also being impacted.


Chris Docherty, the Scottish Sporting Director of FC Akron, has left the ambitious second division Russian club, having only joined in November 2021, while others that TransferRoom have spoken to, on the condition of anonymity, are plotting their exits.


One executive at a Russian Premier League club told TransferRoom: “Of course, this is a sensitive topic. There are people high up at the clubs who trust that we will stay. But we all know we need to look for options now. We are open to opportunities.”


Foreign players in Russia have been given until April 7 to register with new clubs for the remaining months of the season, and some football operations staff are keen to stay in place to help facilitate any moves.


One told TransferRoom: “We have signed young players from abroad, 19, 20, 21 year olds. We feel we have a duty to make sure that they’re OK first. We don’t want to abandon them. That is what we are hearing from other teams too.”


Some Russian Premier League clubs have a particularly European feel to their coaching staff.


Lokomotiv Moscow, for example, may have lost their German manager, but they also employ another six German staff, including the likes of Sporting Director Tomas Zorn, Marvin Compper (Assistant Coach), Lars Kornetka (Head of Club Analytics), Christian Möckel (Head of Scouting) and Matthias Wallenwein (Chief Scout).


There’s also an English Data Scout in Tom Reynolds, an Austrian goalkeeper coach in Sascha Marth, and a Mexican Head of Performance in Jorge Ivan.


Such multi-cultural backroom set-ups, while not widespread in the Russian Premier League, have been slowly emerging as clubs open up to employing foreign managers.


Spartak Moscow’s Italian Manager-Sporting Director combination Paolo Vanoli and Luca Cattani are understood to be remaining with the club, according to reports in the country.


The Russian Premier League is continuing despite the war, while the Ukrainian Premier League was suspended when the invasion began.

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