Radik Shaimiev: ''If you win yourself, you will win everyone!''

New Rubin FC president’s first interview

Radik Shaimiev: ''If you win yourself, you will win everyone!'' Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

Several strategic decisions were made last week at a meeting of the Board of Trustees of Rubin FC that was chaired by Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov. The transition of management and financing of the club to TAIF GC is one of them. A new club president is the second one: the board decided Ilsur Metshin needed to give the honourable place to Radik Shaimiev. The company's Director General Albert Shigabutdinov told about the first plans and tasks of TAIF in its new capacity in an interview to Realnoe Vremya. Today we offer our readers Radik Shaimiev's first interview as Rubin FC president.

Mr Shaimiev, let's start with your personal attitude to football. It was written you like this game a lot and don't mind playing it.

In this respect, my story is similar to the story of numerous boys – I played quite well when I was a kid. All the yard played with the ball till the night like others first. In general, it was ouк common USSR childhood where we all were football players. I loved football, of course. But I was busy with other things – studies, self-improvement.

I know you became a European champion in autocross.

Yes, it was not easy. There are things to remember.

Fine, a question from Realnoe Vremya's sports staff: do you prefer attacking and defensive football?

Let's agree from the beginning. Strategically, I am convinced, first of all, head coach must develop football as art. Of course, I also need to participate in it. As club president, that philosophy of family and warmth that I want to cultivate at the football club is my goal. First of all, we need to make a team, psych up for a victory, then there will be a result.

Mr Shaimiev, we can't help but ask the most topical question, which is the most important question for some people today. Has the decision on the appointment of Rubin's new head coach been made?

Is it the main question? The main question is that TAIF started to manage the football club (smiling).

''We found common points at the meeting with Kurban Berdyev. His intention to return to Kazan coincided with our vision.'' Photo: fc-rostov.ru

There will be questions about the strategy later. But we would like to start with the most popular and expected appointment of Kurban Berdyev as head coach.

I agree. I will say this way: there were negotiations with him beforehand. We found common points at the meeting with Kurban Berdyev. His intention to return to Kazan coincided with our vision.

Does it mean he is back?

Nowadays we can't say he is back because at the moment we have not abrogated the contract with coach Javier Gracia. I hope it will happen in the short run. We are waiting for his decision.

Won't you participate in this conversation?

No, there will be somebody from TAIF. But I think it is a business and agreements of the previous administration.

What a term will the contract with Kurban Berdyev be have? Have you already discussed the conditions?

We have not discussed the conditions of the contract yet. I think in such affairs the most important thing is a human understanding. For me in life gentlemen's agreement is more important: there must be honour and conscience. He gave his consent – it is enough for me. We will discuss all the nuances later. I am ready inside for his arrival.

Did he set his own conditions? Particularly everybody knows that Kurban Berdyev dreams of creating his own football school.

Not conditions but wishes. Our visions coincided here.

The construction of a new base of Rubin is one of my key goals as club president. We are going to build a world-class base from scratch in a new place, not far from Kazan.

''We are waiting for offers from the players. They have the right to abrogate the contracts themselves. In any case, I would give the right to the coach – he will need to work with this collective, it is up to him to choose. From my point of view, we can't get rid of all the people, there are talented players. The coach is the point who probably set priorities in a wrong way.'' Photo: rubin-kazan.ru

''The city administration and we need to continue our joint work''

I have a question about optimisation of expenditures. On the day of that historical and now Board of Trustees, Albert Shigabutdinov commented our newspaper they were going to cut costs to maintain the club. Is it already known what will be optimised first of all?

I want to decide it calmly, to take a pause. I want to discuss it with the administration. Yes, we are going to optimise. As we think, the expenditures are unreasonably high. This is why we started to manage. We will work to make them corresponding. Today's financing volumes and today's situation of Rubin don't need comments. We will also attract partnership financing – we are making plans now.

Players are probably one of the key expenditures. Are you going to change the policy of attraction of players in the next season considering all your plans for preparation of your own personnel and plans for expenditure optimisation? What are you going to do with the players whom Gracia already invited?

The contracts were signed for four years. 1,5 years have passed. But we will have to carry it all during the three years. We say we are going to change the financing vector, optimise it. Of course, somebody can dislike it. And we are waiting for offers from the players. They have the right to abrogate the contracts themselves. In any case, I would give the right to the coach – he will need to work with this collective, it is up to him to choose. From my point of view, we can't get rid of all the people, there are talented players. The coach is the point who probably set priorities in a wrong way. All the players are talented in itself.

Have the players already reacted to the news about a possible change of the coach?

They are on holiday at the moment. They are to arrive on 9 June, go through a medical examination and go to a camp on 10 June. This is why the list is probably going to be announced on 9 June.

A question about the new management form. Are you going to make the club a joint-stock company from the municipal autonomous organisation in the short run?

Yes, it is also under discussion. The question now is how to attract partners. In my opinion, Rubin has a history, and it is linked with Kazan and its citizens. We think the city needs to obligatorily participate in this join-stock company. The history of Rubin FC began in 1958 – it is a history of Kazan football, it is a Kazan club. It used to be called Iskra and started as a team of the Gorbunov Aviation Factory. From my point of view, the city administration and we need to continue our joint work! Look, Rubin's brand includes the word Kazan and the 1958 year. Those who don't know their history, I am sorry, won't have a future.

''The construction of a new base of Rubin is one of my key goals as club president. We are going to build a world-class base from scratch in a new place, not far from Kazan.'' Photo: Maksim Platonov

When are you going to make these changes?

In the nearest time.

I can't help but ask, will the city make management decisions in this status?

Ilsur Metshin and I have good relations. He will participate in discussions with pleasure. But he says our 100% won't allow him to order morally.

The only thing I can say is that Ilsur Metshin is a talented person, very creative. One should also listen to him. If he shares his ideas, I am always glad about it.

''We are going to build a world-class base from scratch''

You already said you are not going to substitute the head coach. But we would like to know your opinion. Is there any sense in betting on foreign players or is it better to prepare our own players?

President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin says we need to develop our Russian football. I don't think we need to completely get rid of foreign players at the moment but we must work with kids and juniors. It is part of my strategy, my vision.

Once I interviewed Kurban Berdyev. He told me then his main dream was to create a football academy for kids and juniors in Kazan that would be able to prepare world-class football players. According to his idea, they were supposed to live and grow as professionals next to masters gaining their priceless experience. But conditions need to be developed for such an academy, of course. Have you already acquainted with the base of Rubin? Have you estimated living conditions of the athletes?

The construction of a new base of Rubin is one of my key goals as club president. We are going to build a world-class base from scratch in a new place, not far from Kazan. I acquainted the current base of Rubin last week. I don't like when I am welcomed, accompanied to the club president's office and told fairy tales. Rustam Sayakhov and I walked along the territory, looked over inside, and the club president's office was the last room I visited at the base.

''My ideology is following: I love a family atmosphere. Creating a team spirit is the main goal. I was taught in the army that one can win victories by a team spirit.''

What are your impressions of what you saw?

If you look at it all inside, there are many problems there. They can be and need to be solved. My ideology is following: I love a family atmosphere. Creating a team spirit is the main goal. I was taught in the army that one can win victories by a team spirit. In the army, if somebody cheats, all the people do push-ups!

I walked along the Rubin base for four hours. I acquainted with cleaners, cooks, visited the electric control room, boiler, looked heating units over. It is necessary not to cherish illusions.

''New base – new ideology''

The new strategy, even the new philosophy of the club – you set a very difficult goal.

The first year will be difficult, of course. There is a lot of work, we need to optimise many things. But I won't dash to make conclusions. We need to study the world and Russian experience to build a new modern football club base.

Who is going to finance the construction of this base? Is it already known?

TAIF, and Rubin will manage it in the future. Rustam Minnikhanov, I thank him, promised to help with solving organisational problems, allocation of land. I asked a place not far from Kazan, near the airport. I would like to start it right now, not to drag on. Strike while the iron is hot, so to speak. If we are helped with purchasing land by an investment programme, I would be grateful. It will also reduce our costs.

Will the base belong to Rubin?

We will consider the variants later.

The plans are ambitious. Is there any plan of expected results besides the plan of actions?

If we do it, we need to really do it, conscientiously, I would say. Today I don't want to give any opinion of anybody. Maksim Averin says in About Love that why one should dig in the past if it can't be changed, why one should look to the future if it is like a ghost, let's live here and now. This is why I am not going to estimate what was done and make plans… I said what I would like to do. To speak about some victories… Of course, we do sport to win, take it or leave it. When I put my racing helmet on, some people told me that I was already old, enjoy your ride. I understood if you are an athlete, you have only one task – to be the first! I will never forget the feeling when I was standing on the podium, and the Soviet Union's anthem was playing. It was in 2003! They were constantly confusing our anthems then. But I was standing with tears in my eyes, and I was proud. We need to win, of course! It is not easy. We will see the result at the end of the season. I will promise nothing.

''One needs to do one thing well. This is why I am not a car racer from 1 June. I hung my legendary helmet that I had on when I won in many competitions on the peg. I will certainly leave my suit for some nostalgia – it must be.'' Photo: fia.com

''I am not a car racer from 1 June. I hung my helmet on the peg ''

What do you think about this change in your life? Is it a new challenge?

Not unfortunately, but I can admit that I have a kind of sadness, good sadness because I said if I started doing something, I would certainly stop participating in races. One needs to do one thing well. This is why I am not a car racer from 1 June. I hung my legendary helmet that I had on when I won in many competitions on the peg. I will certainly leave my suit for some nostalgia – it must be. Is it a challenge? Yes, maybe. A motto of the marines has driven me since I saw service in the Navy: ''Victory is where we are!'' And any person, if he or she is an athlete in soul, needs to see new summits and aspire to conquer them. Like Vysotsky says: ''And only slightly you envy the lad, who's going the first time to make it himself to the peak!''

You are told to be offered to head Rubin several years ago.

There was an offer two years ago from President of the republic Rustam Minnikhanov to chair it. I weighed everything up and said I did nothing spontaneously in life, I needed two years to think it over first, call out the troops as a commander. I said I would certainly give my answer in two years. He said: ''Fine''. Two years have passed, and it was time. We have the honour, if you said – do. I came and said I was ready, but there were several wishes. I expressed them, and he met me halfway. It is how it happened.

Is sport for you only a business? Do you think that a football club can exist as a business model in modern Russian conditions?

Of course, I would like, but it is the reality. We need to understand we don't throw money away. It is our heritage, it is our power for the good, it is what we do for the republic, we need to chair the image. We could not stand on the sidelines in the situation with Rubin. It turned out that too many cooks spoil the broth. This is why we had to do it ourselves. There won't be a full business model, of course. Yes, it would be cool if we manage to reach profitability a bit. I don't see it at the moment in our conditions. We will see something if something changes, new opportunities appear. At the moment, no. This is why I won't consider it as pure business, it is a good reserve. This is what we have at the moment.

But you are going to spend your own money, in fact.

What does ''my money'' mean?

I meant the money of shareholders that can be spent on other goals.

How much does one person need? Not much. All our shareholders understand it is necessary for further development of TAIF and the republic, in general. I don't want to speak about this topic further. But football is a necessary thing, it unites millions of fans around the planet, it unites countries and continents. While you are saying ''my money''… Not everything can be measured by money. General Alexander the Great said to his people while dying that he had one wish, to turn his palms upside down, to put him in such a way that all the people would see he took nothing.

''They are unique people. I look at them, they are real fighters. They really fight together with the team, support, travel, live with football. It is the real spirit! I will certainly cooperate with them.'' Photo: rubin-kazan.ru

Fans are the real spirit

Back to football. Rubin has loyal fans who don't leave the team at the most difficult times. Are you also going to work with them?

They are unique people. I look at them, they are real fighters. They really fight together with the team, support, travel, live with football. It is the real spirit! I will certainly cooperate with them.

Mr Shaimiev, in your answers I feel a great desire to achieve a result. Won't you enter the changing room and advise at breaks of a football match saying who needs to be substituted, how to play? To tell the truth, it is not a rare thing in our sport when the owner of a club interferes and tries to teach the coach how to lead the game.

I am strongly convinced that in this world everybody needs to mind his or her own business. It will be the end as soon as I rush into the changing room the change the game scheme, place players. The person who lives with it, knows what to do in details needs to do it. This is why he is a coach. They are talented people with an especial gift.

It is known that Kurban Berdyev worked with Rustem Saymanov in one team for a long time. Are you going to attract him to work at Rubin?

Kurban Berdyev asked to make Rustem Saymanov sports director. I am not against. In this respect, Rustem is a person born to become a sports director. I heard a lot about this person from football experts. I acquainted with him when he worked at Rubin. And we met again recently. I told about my plans. He said to me: ''Radik, why do you need it? May I stand on the sidelines? You know my past.'' He touched me. I replied: ''Rustem, you have a spouse, children and grandchildren. I ask you to give them an opportunity to be proud of you. Take this advantage. Turn the page. And I want you and Kurban Berdyev to become champions, I want your daughters and granddaughters and especially your spouse to be proud of you as winner. What can be better?''

I know he is also a good specialist.

What evidence is needed if in the history of Rubin he together with Kurban Berdyev became champions twice? I know they did it once and will do it now, I believe in it.

Are not you afraid that the ''friendly'' media will be endlessly talking this topic of football, criminal, etc.?

I know and I am not afraid of it. I will repeat once again: I want his family, his children and grandchildren to be proud of him. It must be so. Let them write. But the person got his punishment. He is on the outside. He has the right to have a normal life and favourite job. I talked to him once and saw the person has a spirit. It is very important for me.

''I don't want to politicise a lot but Rubin FC is our common heritage, the pride of the republic, part of Tatarstan's team spirit that got used to winning. This is why I said: ''Guys, let's make our motto 'Power to the Good'' real in this area.''

Rubin for TAIF is, of course, a heavy burden, huge costs even for such a powerful and successful company. Many people still don't understand why TAIF needs it all.

It is a heavy burden, of course! It is not even a burden, it is a social issue. I don't want to politicise a lot but Rubin FC is our common heritage, the pride of the republic, part of Tatarstan's team spirit that got used to winning. This is why I said: ''Guys, let's make our motto ''Power for the Good'' real in this area.'' It is not an easy goal. We already have it all, in general! TAIF already runs amazing, great business for the good of the republic's residents. And, in football, we can't lower the bar that was set. We don't want to throw money away. If we decided to do it, we need to do it well. Like Sukhomlinsky said that ''Patriotism is the shiest and the most delicate feeling… Save holy words, don't shout about your love for the homeland at all the crossings. You would rather work for its good and for its power in silence.

Well said.

It must be a foundation in any business. Patriotism will be at the heart of this business. This is why we need to promise less and do more. To be able to say with pride and dignity: ''Yes, we were, yes, we did.'' We will go further.

P.S. When I was watching the Champions League final of Real Madrid against Juventus on 3 June, the players were shown before they appeared on the pitch. The stands were shouting. It was such a power, such incredible vibration, energy! It was so close to me. I asked my spouse: ''What does it remind you?'' She said: ''It is Gladiator. The moment before the fight at Coliseum.'' Yes, it was that moment – the moment of truth! Thousands of people who need a spectacle – and you are before the fight. We will win!

By Ilshat Aminov, Anna Saushina. Photo: Oleg Tikhonov