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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Blames Lack of Success on Foreigners

President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday called for a reduction in the number of foreign players in Russian football.

Speaking during a live television call-in show Wednesday, Putin said that the national team's lack of success in recent years was the result of the large number of foreign players in the Russian Premier League.

"The problem lies in the excessive number of foreign players in Russian teams -- there are too many of them," Putin said. "In my view, this number should be limited, because when it comes to selecting the national team, it seems like there is no one left to choose from."

Putin praised national team manager Guus Hiddink, however, calling him a "fine specialist."

Among other problems facing Russian football, Putin noted the poor quality of pitches and the insufficient attention paid to youngsters who want to get involved in sports, including football.

The Russian Football Union on Wednesday fully supported Putin's diagnosis of the sport's current woes, in particular the recent influx of foreign players.

"We are pursuing a consistent policy on this issue," Russian Football Union spokesman Andrei Malosolov told Interfax. "This year the number of foreign players cannot exceed eight per team. Next year that number will fall to seven, and by 2009 it will drop to five."

Malosolov said the football authorities were also working to bring more pitches around the country into compliance with international standards.