Football a Moscow favourite

July 5

The people of Russia started playing football in the late 19th century, and the game quickly became popular. Moscow’s Main Archival Administration has compiled documents on the development of national football in the late 19th century.

In the early 20th century, football clubs and hobby groups mushroomed at local factories, in city territories (the equivalent of city districts in pre-revolutionary Moscow) and in other locations where people were eager to play football. According to the journal of the Moscow Region’s Agency for Hobby Groups, the Lefortovo football club was registered in December 1912. By 1913, the city had 25 sports societies with football teams.

The journal of the Moscow Region’s Agency for Hobby Groups: A 14 December 1912 entry on registering the Lefortovo football club

The Main Archival Administration also stores a request submitted by the Moscow Football League’s Committee to the Moscow City Duma (Legislature) in 1913. The concerned officials requested that the League receive the status of the city’s only football organisation, and that it be allowed to keep a special flag with the city emblem. This implied that the Moscow Football League alone should have the right to organise local and international competitions involving city teams.

 An August 1913 request, submitted by the Moscow Football League Committee to the Moscow City Duma, to represent Moscow in the Football sports category and to receive a flag depicting flowers and an emblemVirtually all members of the Moscow Football League’s Committee, headed by Roman (Robert) Fulda, the main local football enthusiast, signed this request. It was in fact Fulda, who suggested establishing the Moscow Football League. In 1910, he donated a cup to the League whose officials presented it to teams winning the Moscow Football Championships until the autumn of 1922. These teams were also called holders of the Fulda Cup.

The League’s Committee also included many UK subjects who had settled down in Russia. The UK is the birthplace of football, and the new game spread to Russia from there.

Advertisements of that period highlight the popularity of football. For example, the famous Mur and Merilise Department Store claimed to be selling the world’s best McGregor and MMM khaki-chrome leather footballs and the world’s best McGregor football boots. Moscow’s M & M Tsygankov Brothers offered custom-made footballs from specially prepared, dense, stretched and oil-coated leather.

Photo: Moscow’s Main Archives

Bookshelf as long as Moscow Ring Road: Documents and secrets in Moscow’s Main Archives

The Moscow Archives  stores documents of government agencies, organisations, enterprises and institutions, personal collections, photo, audio, and video material. The oldest sources date back to the late 17th century. Photos and documents from the archives are used in exhibitions as well as educational projects.


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