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Yuri Davidov: We’ll Soon Have to Enlarge the Tournament Format 30.05.2016 18:31

Yuri Davidov: We’ll Soon Have to Enlarge the Tournament Format

 Art-Football Festival Organizer and Russia’s Team Captain Talks about the Forthcoming World Championship among Artists

The first whistle at the Art-Football world championship among artists will sound within hours. And the first concert as a part of the event will be held just as soon. Yuri Davidov, General Manager of Non-Profit Charitable Programs Board Starko is telling about preparation to the unique and unparalleled festival.


- Yuri, preparation to any festival is a bothersome task but this fuss is pretty pleasant. Is everything going according to the plan?


- One of the key problems is the number of participants. The accepted format of the tournament where 16 teams participate cannot accept all those who want to take part. There is no doubt that in a while we’ll have to think about a way how to select participants or increase their number. But I will make no secret of the fact that this fuss is really fun.


- Even the European Championship could not stick to the format of 16 teams and had to raise the number of teams to 25.


- Our festival is onwards and upwards from year to year as well. The number of teams who want to participate is increasing. This year is the debut for Serbian, Montenegrin, Hungarian teams. The Iranian team is coming back after a little break. I’d like to point out that you will see the Argentinian team, which adorned the very first tournament but hasn’t come ever since. The team is headed by the well-known Russian fan and forward Ector Brakamonte.

As you can guess, new teams means new participants. For example, the well-known actor Milosh Bekovich who played Koka in the Sun Strike by Nikita Mikhalkov is also part of the team.


- Given today’s political situation, we were rather surprised to see the Turkish team among the participants.


- On the very same day after the unpleasant events, which deteriorated relationships between our countries, the Turkish team confirmed its participation in the festival. Art-Football is not about the politics, it is about real friends. The representatives of the Turkish delegation, unlike the country’s president, apologized to us and assured us that the only feeling they had for the moment was shame. I will make no secret of the fact that we consulted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and they responded that there were no prohibitions in relation to cultural and sport interaction between the countries. There is misunderstanding between Russian and Turkish leaders, but it doesn’t relate to our festival.


- The tournament in comparison to its predecessors has become more compact.


- Indeed, almost all matches will be held on the same Spartakovets stadium on the 3rd Grazhdanskaya Street not far from Preobrazhenskaya square metro station. Now, the spectators can enjoy musical performances also on the stadium, and not only in Gorky Park where the participants will give their concerts. The artists will perform before matches and during breaks.


- Will the artists get points for their performances as well as for football matches?

- Absolutely. Moreover, these points are very important because this year we made a decision according to which a team with the least number of total points won’t be able to take part in the festival next year.


- Does the Russian team traditionally train a lot before the tournament?


- In 2013 we took the 4th place, in 2014 – the 3rd, in 2015 – the 2nd. So it looks like the time has come for us to be the first. Our team is really a good one. In addition to the acknowledged team leaders we now have Rostislav Hait and Leonid Barats from The Quartet I, the first-class vocalist Aleksandr Ragulin starring the leading part in the Count Orlov musical and the son of legendary hockey player Aleksandr Pavlovich Ragulin will be quite an reinforcement. The famous DJ Ruslan Nigmatullin is our team’s goalkeeper. He will close the program of one of the concerts in Gorky Park.


- Thus, we won’t see Yuri Davidov on the gate?


- On the contrary. I will certainly play in the first match with the Estonian team. I hope I’ll be able to do this. I’ll turn 60 soon and I don’t want the result of our team to depend on my wish to play. I am honest and upright about my own abilities, football and team companions.


- I remember of some the incidents on previous tournaments when players of some teams were suspected of being professional football players.


- We strictly control such matters and require each participant to confirm the status of an artist in advance. Together, we have signed a memorandum which strictly and clearly regulates participants’ status. Recently, it was really a weak point of the festival but today such substitutions are practically excluded.


I don’t want to name specific teams but we’ve had an incident when one of the teams brought a paper about the status of an artist of some players. It was said in the paper that they love to perform in some rural cultural center and sing in a village choir.


- Anyway, will the professional football players be admitted?


- The regulation admits one player not younger than 39 and one not younger than 40 years old. Such a football player shall either have matches played for the national team or at least a hundred matches played in the top division of national championships. In our pretty rich tournament history we’ve had incidents when a team had players from lower divisions who didn’t make enough progress during their sports career. And they undoubtedly had advantage over real artists.


- What professional players will be on the Russian national team?


- Only two professional players may be simultaneously on the football ground but more players may be included in the application list. For example, Ruslan Nigmatullin mentioned above. We won’t do without Sergei Kiryakov who is our sheet anchor on the field. Victor Bulatov and Marat Makhmutov are our playing coaches.

Apart from the artists and some professional players, each team may announce one more player of any job. In our team, this place belongs to Arkady Dvorkovich who has proved to be indispensable.

- I’ve seen on several occasions, how good a player Arcady Vladimirovich really is. He also runs fast. Given the fact that he doesn’t have much time to train with the team. And how many times he had to fight!


- He is a real fighter. And we have no odd people on our team, as I mentioned. All the players are reliable and want to win the Art-Football.


- The team has become much younger in recent years.


- This is a normal practice. Everyone who has ever seen Art-Football knows that we don’t play just exhibition matches, we play real football on the field. This is a fight that requires special training including physical one. Indeed, we have only three players left from our original team—me, Igor Melnik and Valery Sutkin.

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