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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Expat Football Club Celebrates Long Run

MT Founders Rees and Keane in 2003
Hundred of expats gathered for free food and drink, and some football too, at the Expat Football League Summer Cup.

The event Sunday — which was free for everyone, even if you’d never even kicked a ball in anger — was to celebrate a new sponsor, insurance firm Allianz Rosno, and to thank all those who  supported the league over the years.

“The aim of this event is to celebrate the Expat Football League with the families in the expat community,” said Nick Rees, one of the founders of the league. “And have one of the most enjoyable ‘totally free’ family days out in Moscow. “

The league is one of the longest-running sports organizations for expatriates in Moscow.

Founded in 2003 by Rees and Darren Keane, who remain part of the league, it now has nine regular teams and has attracted a number of expat and Russian companies as sponsors over the years, including The Moscow Times at one point.

The football on offer is unlikely to trouble any professional team, but the league has still become an institution for many, having managed to keep running week in week out despite the cost of renting pitches and the trouble of finding a decent pitch in the summer.

“We have a few ex-professionals, but generally if people have played a few years before they would be good enough for the league. The standards vary from old, fat and not-very-good to young, fast and too good!” said Rees.

The league provided a steady flow of shashlik, salad and cold beer as well as a bouncy castle, face-painting and clowns for children if they had no interest in watching a parent puff up the pitch.

Football matches were played all afternoon accompanied by typical expat league banter.

“It was a magnificent pass — to nobody,” one match commentator said.

Players said that for those who have just arrived in the city, the teams give them an instant group of friends, a network of support that helps them adjust to their new life.

Founded as an over-30s league, the rules have been softened in recent years to allowing those over 28, although the non-Russian rule remains intact.

If you’re interested in joining the league, please contact Nick Rees at