Russia to switch to European season from 2012

MOSCOW - Russian football will fall in line with the European season from 2012 after adopting a format running from August to May with a mid-winter break, the country's football association (RFU) announced on Monday.

The RFU's executive board voted that all three domestic professional divisions would switch to the new system, replacing the current March-November season.

"The transition will be gradual as next year's championship will be played over three stages," RFU chief Sergei Fursenko told reporters.

"It will start in the spring of 2011, continue in the fall and finish in the spring of 2012. From then on it will revert to two parts - the fall-spring season."

The 2012 season will start in early August and finish in late May, with a three-month (December to February) winter break in between.

Fursenko said the move would help top Russian clubs compete with Europe's elite on equal terms.

The Russian Football League, comprising the second and third divisions, had opposed the move, saying most of the country's stadiums did not meet the necessary requirements to host matches in the wintry conditions of late November and early March.

Fursenko said the switch to the European format would speed up the construction of modern arenas across the country as Russia bids to host the 2018 World Cup.

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