FC Spartak Moscow (Russian: Футбольный клуб «Спартак» Москва [spɐrˈtak mɐˈskva]) is a Russian professional football club from Moscow. Having won 12 Soviet championships (second only to Dynamo Kyiv) and a record 10 Russian championships, it is the country's most successful club. They have also won a record 10 Soviet Cups, 3 Russian Cups and one Russian Super Cup. Spartak have also reached the semi-finals of all three European club competitions.
Historically, the club was a part of the Spartak sports society. Other teams in the society include ice hockey club HC Spartak Moscow. Currently, the club is not connected with the Spartak sports society and is an independent privately owned organisation.
In the early days of Soviet football, many government agencies such as the police, army and railroads created their own clubs. So many statesmen saw in the wins of their teams the superiority over the opponents patronising other teams. Almost all the teams had such kind of patrons — Dynamo Moscow with the militsiya, CSKA Moscow with the Red Army and Spartak, created by a trade union public organization was considered to be "the people's team".
The history of the football club and sports society "Spartak" originates from the Russian Gymnastics Society (RGO "Sokol"), which was founded on May 4, 1883. The society was founded under the influence of the Pan-Slavic "Sokol movement" with the aim of promoting the "Sokolsk gymnastics" and then other sports: fencing, wrestling, figure skating, skating, football, hockey, lawn tennis, boxing, skis, Athletics, cycling. In the spring of 1922 the RGO "Sokol" was renamed into MKS. (Moscow Sport Circle).
In 1922, the Moscow Sport Circle (Moscow sport club of Krasnopresnensky district) (МКС, Московский кружок спорта), later named Krasnaya Presnya (Red Presnya), was formed by Ivan Artemyev and involved Nikolai Starostin, especially in its football team. Presnya is a district of Moscow renowned for the radical politics of its inhabitants. For example, it was the centre of the Moscow uprising of 1905.
The team grew, building a stadium, supporting itself from ticket sales and playing matches across the Russian SFSR. As part of a 1926 reorganization of football in the Soviet Union, Starostin arranged for the club to be sponsored by the food workers union and the club moved to the 13,000 seat Tomsky Stadium, known as Pishcheviki. The team changed sponsors repeatedly over the following years as it competed with Dinamo Moscow, whose 35,000 seat Dynamo Stadium lay close by.
As a high-profile sportsman, Starostin came into close contact with Alexander Kosarev, secretary of the Komsomol (Communist Union of Youth) who already had a strong influence on sport and wanted to extend it. In November 1934, with funding from Promkooperatsiia, Kosarev employed Starostin and his brothers to develop his team to make it more powerful. Again the team changed its name, this time to "Spartak Moscow" (the name Spartak means "Spartacus", a gladiator who led an uprising against Ancient Rome).
The club founders, four Starostin brothers, played a big role in the formation of the team. The Starostins played for the red-whites in the 1930s but right before World War II they were subjected to repression as the leaders of the most hated team by the state authorities. Elder brother Nikolai Starostin wrote in his books that he had survived in the State Prison System due to his participation in football and with Spartak. After the political rehabilitation, in 1954, he would later return to the team as the squad's manager.
In 1935, Starostin proposed the name Spartak. It was inspired by the Italian novel Spartaco, written by Raffaello Giovagnoli, and means Spartacus ("Spartak" in Russian), a gladiator-slave who led a rebellion against Rome. Starostin is also credited with the creation of the Spartak logo. The same year, the club became a part of newly created Spartak sports society.
Czechoslovak manager Antonin Fivebr is credited as the first head coach of Spartak, though he worked as a consultant in several clubs simultaneously. In 1936, the Soviet Top League was established, where its first championship was won by Dynamo Moscow while Spartak won its second, which was held in the same calendar year. Before World War II, Spartak earned two more titles. In 1937 Spartak won the football tournament of Workers' Olympiad at Antwerp.
During the 1950s, Spartak, together with Dynamo, dominated the Soviet Top League. When the Soviet national team won gold medals at the Melbourne Olympics, it consisted largely of Spartak players. Spartak captain Igor Netto was the captain of the national team from 1954 to 1963. In the 1960s, Spartak won two league titles, but by the mid-1960s, Spartak was no more regarded as a leading Soviet club. The club was even less successful in the 1970s and in 1976 Spartak was relegated into the lower league.
During the following season, the stadium was still full as the club's fans stayed with the team during its time in the lower division. Konstantin Beskov, who became the head coach (as a footballer Beskov made his name playing for Spartak's main rivals, Dynamo), introduced several young players, including Rinat Dasayev and Georgi Yartsev. Spartak came back the next year and won the title in 1979, beating Dynamo Kyiv and thanks to Spartak supporters, the period is considered to be the start of the modern-style fans' movement in the Soviet Union.
On 20 October 1982, disaster struck during the UEFA Cup match between Spartak and Dutch club HFC Haarlem. Sixty-six people died in a stampede during the match, making it Russia's worst sporting disaster.
In 1989, Spartak won its last USSR Championship, rivals Dynamo Kyiv 2–1 in the closing round. Spartak's striker Valery Shmarov scored the "golden" free kick with almost no time left. The next season, Spartak reached the European Cup semi-final, consequently eliminating Napoli on penalties and Real Madrid (with 3–1 away victory), but losing to Marseille.
A new page in the club's history began when the Soviet Union collapsed and its championship ceased to exist. In the newly created Russian league, Spartak, led by coach and president Oleg Romantsev, dominated and won all but one title between 1992 and 2001. Year-after-year the team also represented Russia in the Champions League.
Problems began in the new century, however. Several charismatic players (Ilya Tsymbalar and Andrey Tikhonov among others) left the club as a result of conflict with Romantsev. Later, Romantsev sold his stock to oil magnate Andrei Chervichenko, who in 2003 became the club president. The two were soon embroiled in a row that would continue until Romantsev was sacked in 2003 with the club suffering several sub-par seasons until Chervichenko finally sold his stock in 2004. The new ownership made a number of front office changes with the aim of returning the team to the top of the Russian Premier League.
In the 2005 season, Spartak, led by Aleksandrs Starkovs, finished second in the league following an impressive run to beat Lokomotiv Moscow, Zenit Saint Petersburg and Rubin Kazan to the last Champions League place.
Following a mixed start to the 2006 season and public criticism from Dmitry Alenichev, the team's captain and one of its most experienced players, Starkovs left his position to Vladimir Fedotov.
Spartak has been entitled to place a golden star on its badge since 2003 to commemorate winning five Russian championships in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996 and 1997. They have won the championship another four times since 1997. Since 2013, the club have added another three stars as rules allowed teams to include titles won during the Soviet era. In the 2012–13 season, Spartak qualified for the 2012–13 UEFA Champions League group stage and finished last after disappointing performances against FC Barcelona, Celtic and Benfica. In the league, Spartak finished in fourth place while in the cup it was eliminated in the round of 16 by FC Rostov 0–0 (3–5 p), completing a disappointing season. The next 3 seasons (2013–14, 2014–15, 2015–16) were somewhat similar as Spartak finished 6th, 6th and 5th accordingly while the club did not qualify for European Competitions.
Revival of Spartak
By the beginning of the 2016–17 season, Spartak had acquired a strong squad consisting of talented foreign players such as Quincy Promes, Fernando, Ze Luis, Lorenzo Melgarejo and noteworthy Russians such as Denis Glushakov, Roman Zobnin and Ilya Kutepov. As a result, Spartak won the 2016–17 Russian Premier League after a spectacular performance and the club won most derbies and finished with a difference of 7 points. In the 2016–17 Russian Cup, Spartak was eliminated in the round of 32 and in the 2016–17 UEFA Europa League Spartak was eliminated in the third qualifying round by AEK Larnaca FC 2–1 on aggregate and did not qualify for European Competitions. However, Spartak will be participating in the 2017–18 UEFA Champions League group stage. On 6 December 2017, Spartak suffered the biggest defeat in its history, losing 0–7 in an away UCL group match against Liverpool F.C., though they earlier defeated Sevilla FC 5–1.
This page also has a version in other languages: Спартак (Москва) (русский)