2018 World Cup and Russian Championship's gold medal: what else has the new Spartak Stadium witnessed in five years?

2018 World Cup and Russian Championship's gold medal: what else has the new Spartak Stadium witnessed in five years?
Photo: Spartak football club press-service
The legendary club is 97, but its new stadium is only five. Read about some interesting facts about the stadium and its team.

Spartak Stadium opened five years ago, on 5 September 2014. It hosted a match between Spartak (Russia) and Crvena Zvezda (Serbia) football clubs. Since then, the Stadium has seen many magnificent goals and great ball passes. Its stands witnessed both sweetness of victory and bitterness of defeat. Its arena hosted the biggest football events, such as the Cup of Russia, the UEFA Europa League, the UEFA Champions League, the Confederations Cup and the FIFA World Cup. Fans sang songs and shouted chants, made waves and cheered for our teams. All in all, it saw great football games!

On the day of the Stadium's fifth anniversary, mos.ru tells interesting facts and visits Spartak Interactive Museum under the guidance of a Museum’s employee and an experienced fan Vladimir Losev.

About the lawn, a unique sculpture and the loudest fans

Love Spartak as it is, not yourself as part of Spartak

Nikolai Starostin

92 years without a stadium

Hard to believe, but the most popular and renowned Russian football team had no own stadium for almost 100 years. Founded in 1922, Spartak has never had its own football home. Starting with the first USSR Championship in 1936, Spartak played at Dynamo and Torpedo stadiums, Luzhniki and Olimpiysky Sports Complex. There had been many attempts to build the stadium for our red-and-white football players, but the dreams of many generations of Spartak fans came true only in 2014. The first match at the new stadium built in Tushino took place on 5 September 2014. It was a friendly game with Crvena Zvezda football club from Belgrade. It was chosen for a reason, since Spartak and Crvena fans treat each other as best friends. The friendly match ended in a draw (1:1).

Stadium and fans

Officially, Spartak stadium holds a little more than 45,000 spectators, with 10 percent of seats traditionally given for the visiting team fans. Since some seats (for example, those between fans of different teams) stay vacant for security reasons, the real attendance figure is slightly less. Spartak — CSKA game held in 2016 brought together the record-breaking 44,884 fans, with Spartak winning 3:1.

Stand B (outside the gate) is considered the loudest one. It is usually occupied by fans mostly attending the matches by season tickets. They are very active, supporting the team just as loud as they criticise it. The opposite Stand D provides loud support to the teams, too. Stand A is traditionally the most expensive one. Stand C is for more quiet fans. There are many sectors for fans with children. Stewards secure order on the stadium. Sometimes it is hard to buy a ticket, as the Spartak's matches with the most important opponents, CSKA and Zenit teams, as well as the games of European Cup and other significant matches are usually sold out.

Fans enjoyed the brightest event at the Spartak Stadium in May 2017, when Spartak became the champion of Russia for the first time in 15 years. The last home game with Akhmat team was not a big matter, but the stadium was packed with fans ready to celebrate. At the end of the match, thousands of fans surrounded the field, waiting for the final whistle to rush to the lawn. Having won the Russian Championship, Spartak welcomed the Champions League to their stadium. In the autumn of 2017, Spartak played three sold-out games against Liverpool, Sevilla and Maribor. Two of them ended in a draw, with Spartak — Sevilla game ended with the Moscow club's victory scoring 5:1.

The FIFA World Cup was a heyday in the international career of Spartak Stadium.  Arena in Tushino hosted five matches: Argentina — Iceland, Poland — Senegal, Belgium — Tunisia, Serbia — Brazil and the UK — Colombia.

After the FIFA World Cup, Spartak Stadium kept hosting football games popular with Muscovites.  In the 2018/2019 season, Spartak played six matches on its own field, with most of them overcrowded. This season, the average attendance of the Stadium is 37,225 spectators per match.

Starostin brothers: they see everything

A Gladiator's sculpture set up in front of the Stadium is a symbol of Spartak football club. Next to the football field is another sculptural composition.

Spartak Stadium is the only football stadium in the world with a monument erected a few meters away from the pitch. This is a sculptural group featuring Starostin brothers (Nikolai, Alexander, Andrei and Pyotr), Spartak founders. It was created by Filipp Rukavishnikov. His father, Alexander Rukavishnikov, is the author of a 24m high sculpture of a Gladiator meeting the guests in front of the Stadium.

Photo: mos.ru. Maxim Denisov

Nikolai Starostin started playing football at the turn of 1910-1920 in the football team to be further joined by the other Starostin brothers. Along with their friends,  these four players formed the base of the team, which was called Spartak in 1935 (thanks to Nikolai Starostin keeping the book about the legendary gladiator on his desk).

After his football career was over, Nikolai managed the team for about 50 years. Spartak’s founding father died at the age of 93.

After finishing his sports career, Andrei Starostin was the team's PR Manager. He made everything to make Spartak popular in Russia.

The stadium offers some more unusual sites. For example, chairs in Stand C form a figure of the team's age. Now it is 97. Every year, this figure changes, respectively. In 2022, it will feature its 100th anniversary.

Photo: mos.ru. Maxim Denisov

In the so-called mixed zone inside the Stadium, you will find honorary time capsule of Spartak Stadium. It was buried on 2 June 2007 on the site of the former Tushinsky Airfield and future stadium.

It is a schematic stadium's model containing a message of club veterans addressing future generations of Spartak members. It was Olympic champion and former Spartak player Anatoly Isayev to read it out.

50 years after it was buried, that is in 2057, the capsule will be re-opened and read out again.

The legendary Spartak football player Fyodor Cherenkov is the author of the slogan "Live for football, play and win nicely".

Stadium pitch: how it works

The Stadium field has North American grass cover. Agronomists taking care of the turf have been trained by SIS Pitches, the world-famous pitch provider. Operating almost all over the world, this company cooperates with about a hundred stadiums, including Santiago Bernabéu and Camp Nou.

The grass strips get combed in different directions to easily detect offside. On the match day, the stadium's lawn must be cut down to 2.5 cm to make the ball roll faster. However, every stadium has its own rules: if the team prefers slow game, the grass is cut higher.

The heating system pipes are buried 25 cm deep in the ground. They turn on if the soil temperature drops below +15 °C. In winter, this system is on 24/7.

Photo: mos.ru. Maxim Denisov

Spartak's Hall of Fame

The winner is not the one who can do more, but the one who wants to do more

Nikolai Starostin

Some visitors are unaware that the Stadium has its own Spartak Museum to visit on non-match days. Find the Museum's opening hours on the Club's website.

The Museum boasts exhibits such as awards, photos, documents, posters, personal belongings of players, and a huge amount of multimedia materials.

"They help to vastly expand the Museum. How does it work? For example, one of the showcases features Nikolai Starostin's questionnaire of 1984 distributed by High School of Coaches. It is open at one turn, so there is only one page you can read. But the multimedia screen offers a fully scanned document you can scroll through," says Vladimir Losev.

A small sphere-shaped room with an interactive table is quite impressive, too. You can choose any player in the team's history and view his photos and biography on the room walls as a panorama. Also, using a state-of-the-art technology, you can make a dream team of the best players and compare it with dream teams of other visitors to the Museum. There are rotating mannequins demonstrating red-and-white uniforms of different periods.

The Museum boasts huge amounts of information: thousands of photos, documents, scanned newspaper clippings, videos showing the greatest goals and the most significant games. You may also find details of the team's life for any year of its existence.

"This is a newspaper article of 1924 reading that the would-be Spartak (called Krasnaya Presnya in 1924) won the would-be CSKA (OPPV) 7:2. It is amusing to read how journalists of that time described football. As the phenomenon was quite new, you may come across some funny phrases. For example: "The second goal finds itself again in the Presnya's net," says Vladimir Losev.

Some showcases display various Club's trophies, there are dozens of them. The Cup of the Soviet Union (a magnificent crystal bowl of the 19th century) is among them. Football teams had been competing for it from 1936 till 1992. In 1992, during the last Soviet final, the Cup went to the winner, Spartak team, for good.

Some exhibits seem to have nothing to do with football. For example, a record that belonged to Galimzyan Khusainov, who played for Spartak in the 1960s and 1970s. The team's captain was a jazz fan. The veteran's widow decided to give one of his favourite records to the Museum. Sergei Ryazansky, Spartak's fan, the cosmonaut and Hero of Russia, has granted the Museum a pennant he used to bring to the ISS, as the cosmonauts watched football, too, and cheered for their favourite teams.

The Museum's creators say that all the exhibits have been donated. Dozens of people, both regular fans and Club owners and veterans, brought their gifts.