Russia shouldn't import African sportsmen - Putin

Oct 2, 2007, Guardian

Russian President Vladimir Putin criticised sports officials on Tuesday for attracting sportsmen from abroad instead of grooming homegrown champions.

"Looking at our teams, one cannot immediately understand whether those are ours, or a team from Africa," he said.

"The result is well known. There is no one to play in our national teams," he told a meeting of Russia's Sports Council.

Putin wants to revive the past glory of Soviet teams, who dominated in many disciplines, and blamed club managers for the decline in sports.

"Instead of preparing young people, breeding our own national cadres they spend millions of dollars hiring foreign players," Putin told the Council meeting, tasked with planning for the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi ...

"This is all about spiritual and physical health of the nation, of its young generation," said Putin.

Achievements in national sport are seen by the Kremlin as a way to consolidate the nation.

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