The ex-director of the Chertanovo Academy, Nikolai Larin, is accused by the court of “theft of other people’s property by deception committed by a group of persons by prior agreement, on an especially large scale.” Prosecutors claim that Chertanovo overestimated the amount of budget funding: according to the investigation, Larin fictitiously increased the lists of students in order to receive more funds, and they, in turn, as stated during the process, went “at his personal discretion.”
On September 26, Larin finds out what sentence the court passed on him. Today he gave his last word – it was a 15-minute monologue about the dream of the best football school in Russia, which almost succeeded.
“Over the past year and a half, I have thought more than once when I will have to make the last word. There were many different thoughts. This is the first time I’ve encountered such a situation. To begin with, as I already said at the trial, I spent an amazing and happy 28 years of my life at Chertanovo: from a novice football player and coach to 13 years as a director. Over the years, we have managed to gather a fantastic team of employees. All these 13 years we lived as one big family and worked with the motto: “All employees of institutions – from cleaners to directors – we are all service personnel for football players. We must do everything so that they can reach their full potential.” I am sure that this was the key to our success and allowed Chertanovo to become the best state academy in the country after some time.
Photo: Football School “Chertanovo”
I had a dream – to do something special in Russian football, which, unfortunately, has been spoiled for many years by big money. Every year we have more and more legionnaires, and Russian football players, allegedly due to improper preparation, did not get a place in the RPL. The dream was to try to prove that with a properly built football player training system, you can only get into the RPL with your guys and play on equal terms with billionaire teams. In the future, I would very much like to see academies set up in all regions of Russia following our example. To be able to reach as many potentially talented children as possible, to help them smoothly transition from youth football to adult football. This problem has not been solved yet: guys who graduate from football academies are mostly lost or unable to adapt to professional football. The system that was created in Chertanovo made it possible to cope with this.
Using Chertanovo as an example, I have already prepared a presentation for a speech at the Sports Council under the President of the Russian Federation. But due to certain circumstances, unfortunately, I was not able to speak there.
With my dream, I infected all the employees of our institution – from cleaners to coaches. We almost did it: we successfully performed in the FNL, which includes teams from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok; took third place, allowing us to try our hand at the RPL, where we would play with Spartak, Dynamo, Lokomotiv and Zenit – teams that have their own academies. This could radically change the idea of how in Russian football you need to work, relying only on your guys. We were ahead of our time – now these issues are even more relevant than before. But our plans were destroyed by the pandemic year: the championship was not completed, we did not reach the RPL. The guys went to other clubs, and all those who were involved in their upbringing, I think, are proud of the work done.
Photo: Dmitry Golubovich, Championship
It is a great happiness to see the fruits of your work and understand how everything was built. Probably not in vain. For 13 years, as a director, I gave parting speeches and every year, from generation to generation, I said the same words: “If unsuccessful events occur in life, you encounter any difficulties, you need to look for the cause in yourself, and not in someone else.” I tried to convey to them: if you can do it, then you have a future.
Now I don’t want to complain that due to incorrect standards, insufficient subsidies per student, I had to increase the lists and receive additional funding for the academy. I am looking for reasons primarily in myself. For what happened to me during these two years, that the investigation was going on, I understand that I myself am to blame. There is no one to blame for sure. I understand that I was wrong, somewhere frivolous: I knew that we were doing a good and useful thing, so I thought that it was possible to turn a blind eye to some things. It was my dream to make the best state academy, so now I am responsible for this. At the same time, I would really like people from various sports departments to pay attention: all the standards, the entire system for preparing the reserve is already outdated – it needs to be revised. It interferes with quality and efficient work. I am very glad that in Chertanovo, after me, these lists of students were removed. The same money is allocated, but according to different standards. I am glad that my situation at least benefited the following leaders and pupils.
Today I have the opportunity to express my gratitude to all those who support me. These are both those who are currently working in the field of football, and parents who understand that in Chertanovo children not only received an education, but also became versatile personalities and grew up as kind people. I am also supported by colleagues who still work at Chertanovo. Through social networks, I receive support from leaders, parents and football players of other academies in our country. For them, probably, I was a kind of example of a person whose honesty did not cause any doubt: I always stood up for the training of football players. I have always been against how many foreigners play in our championship and do not allow Russian players to prove themselves. There are those people who just come up to me on the street with words of support. I didn’t think it would be.
I would like to thank my family and friends. Special thanks to the pupils of “Chertanovo”, who now play in professional leagues, have become famous football players and accomplished people. Their speeches at meetings, federal channels, moral and material assistance to pay off the claim are very important to me. These people are parts of me. I don’t know if they can be called relatives, but close people – for sure.
It so happened that in this process, Moskomsport and I are on opposite sides of the barricades. But in any case, I just have to say thank you to all the leaders of the organization. Most of the employees of the Moscow Sports Department, who throughout this time helped in various matters, the development of the material and technical base, were allowed to work quietly, without demanding momentary results, as in most schools. I understand that Moskomsport employees put up with me at many meetings when, trying to get some “benefits” for Chertanovo, I behaved quite emotionally – I could even afford something superfluous. I was an unusual director. But in any case, it was all very cool. Together with Moskomsport, we have probably done a great job – the best football school in Russia.
I really hope that everyone in this hall has no doubts: all the money received from the increased lists of students went exclusively for the benefit of the school, its effective work. This is confirmed by the results of our guys.”