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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rostelecom Sponsors National Soccer Team

Russian soccer received a huge financial boost Friday as long-distance telephone monopoly Rostelecom signed a contract to sponsor the national team.

Rostelecom and soccer officials declined to say how much the deal was worth.

However, Vyacheslav Koloskov, president of the Russian Soccer Union, said the deal would double the union's budget, which was between $5 million and $5.5 million last year. The deal runs through the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

"Russian soccer had no general sponsor for six years," Koloskov said at a news conference. "It negatively affected the finances of the national teams, especially the youth [team]."

The teams will wear jerseys bearing the Rostelecom logo for international friendlies and during training. Jerseys worn during international tournaments cannot carry sponsors' names.

The soccer union will use the money to improve national team coaches' salaries and develop the youth teams, Koloskov said.

The deal comes as Russian companies take a greater interest in sports, especially soccer. Oil major Yukos owns a stake in Premier League side Dynamo, while metals giant Norilsk Nickel holds a stake in Torpedo-Metallurg.

Rostelecom decided to sponsor the national team after its improved performance of late.

The Russian team had disappointed soccer fans for years, culminating in a dismal showing at last year's World Cup, where the team failed to get through the first round after losing to Belgium and Japan, sparking riots on the streets of Moscow.

Oleg Romantsev stepped down as coach after being lambasted by sports media as a "dinosaur" for his outdated tactics and selection of aging players for the national team.

Valery Gazzayev was named coach shortly after and immediately began reshaping a newer, younger squad. The team has performed well and is a favorite to qualify from its group for the European Championship finals in 2004.

Gazzayev announced his squad Friday for an upcoming four-team tournament Feb. 12-13, recalling controversial striker Dmitry Sychyov and veteran Valery Karpin.

Sychyov-- who played for Spartak until he was suspended for four months after quitting the Premier League team -- was recalled to the national squad after an impressive start at his new club, Marseilles, scoring twice in three games.

Karpin, who was dropped after the World Cup, was recalled after a strong run with Spanish league leader Real Sociedad.

Gazzayev called up a number of new players for the games, and the squad includes nine players from his own side, CSKA, and four from Lokomotiv.