Wednesday, October 15, 2008

After 1972 Zarya immediately went back to obscurity, finishing last in 1976 spring championship, but it was a year of yet another ill-fated reform of Soviet football, so there were no relegations in the spring, but only after the separate fall championship of the same year. Zarya was finally relegated in 1979, end of story. Only years later the truth was spelled out – Zarya became champion after bribing left and right. It was rumored at the time, but the officials were not only silent – Zarya players were numerous in the Soviet Olympic team in 1972:
The Soviet Olympic Team 1972. Zarya players with capitals.First row, left to right: A. Andriasyan, I. Sabo, YU. ELISEEV, V. KUKSOV, Yu. Istomin, V. ONISHTCHENKO, V. Kolotov, G. Evryuzhikhin.Second row: A. Ponomaryov – head coach, V. Pilguy, V. Kaplichny, O. Zanazanyan, O. Blokhin, A. Yakubik, E. Lovchev, E. Rudakov, S. Olshansky, R. Dzodzuashvili, G. ZONIN – assistant coach, V. SEMENOV, M. Hurtzilava. Since USSR run spring-fall championship, the Olympics came in the middle of the championship in progress. That may have been the reason for inclusion of the coach and the players from Zarya at the time: Soviets greatly preferred to select national players from the current leading clubs. Although the Olympic team finished 4th and was heavily criticized for the failure, a corruption scandal was highly undesirable for possible political implications. In any case, a scandal would have been internationally humiliating: the Soviets preferred to pretend normality.
A moment of Zarya – SCA (Rostov). V. Semenov in attack. A lot about the briberies is still unknown, but it is believed that Zarya bought the games with smaller clubs like SCA, the bulk of the Soviet league. So the title stays in records and the club history. Nothing happened, nobody was punished. It is curious, though – the Soviets tolerated high level corruption, but were punishing severely low level corruption. Zarya was small club, from unimportant city without high-placed influence and back up – ripe for ‘cleansing’ and ‘fight against unsocialist behaviour’.