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Russia has included cricket on its officially recognised list of sports

Russia has included cricket on its officially recognised list of sports
Russia has included cricket on its officially recognised list of sports
©European Cricket League

Russia has recognised cricket as an official sport.

"This is an incredible milestone in the history of cricket in Russia,” Ashwani Chopra, President of Cricket Russia, told the European Cricket Network.

“The decision will further boost our efforts to raise the profile of cricket in Russia.”

Back in July 2019, the Ministry of Sport in Russia refused to recognise cricket as a sport. The decision was announced just a day after England's victory at the ICC Cricket World Cup. But officials have since changed their position, meaning cricket will be eligible for support from the Russian Sports Ministry.

“It was bigger news for the media when cricket was not recognised as a sport in Russia, but now all our hard work has finally been rewarded,” Ashwani Chopra, Founder of Cricket Russia and the Russian Cricket Federation continued.

Cricket Russia are one of the founding members of the European Cricket League and the St. Petersburg Lions, Russia’s ECL19 champion team, grabbed attention by taking part in the first-ever European Cricket League. Moscow Foxes were set to be Russia’s next representatives before the cruel postponement of ECL20 due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

ECL Founder Daniel Weston expressed his delight at the decision: “From knowing Ashwani and many of the people and players involved with Cricket Russia, this is a landmark moment in their pioneering efforts to push the game forward.

“In years to come, I would like to think that more and more good news is going to come from Cricket in Russia and the game won’t look back from here, especially with the opportunity each season for Russia’s domestic champions to play on the world stage at the European Cricket League.”

Cricket in Russia can be traced all the way back to the 1870s with the game played in St. Petersburg. In 1875, British residents of the city challenged the sailors of the Prince of Wales’ Royal Yacht Osbourne to a match. Cricket was well established in St. Petersburg, with British diplomats and merchants challenging managers and foremen of the textile mills to an annual match. By 1895 there were four cricket clubs in St. Petersburg. But the Communist Revolution of 1917 put paid to the spread of cricket in Russia as it was largely seen as a game of the "bourgeois" and playing it was discouraged. With the British moving out of St. Petersburg following the Revolution, the game largely disappeared with them.

Ashwani Chopra has been instrumental in developing cricket in Russia since the late Nineties. As new cricketing roots began to form in Russia, the United Cricket League was registered in 2004, now renamed Cricket Russia, which was granted membership to the ICC in 2012.

In 2013, Ashwani Chopra formed the Russian Cricket Federation with a view to cricket’s possible return to the Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee recognized cricket as a sport in 2009. Cricket was played at the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris, but has been excluded ever since.

“Cricket will only become a truly global game once it becomes an Olympic sport again,” said Chopra.