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Russian minister of sport calls to draw lessons from defeat at Euro-2012

June 19, 2012, 17:14 UTC+3

Vitaly Mutko noted that the state must find tools to influence the situation in russian football

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ALEKSIN, Tula region, June 19 (Itar-Tass) — Russian Minister of Sport Vitaly Mutko has called not to put all the blame on the members of the national football team for a defeat at Euro-2012, but rather scrutinize the situation and draw serious lessons.

“It is difficult to comment on football. We expected too much from our team but received only negative emotions. No one can feel secured against a defeat. But the question is from where it comes. This is what was the most disappointing. All the conditions were created for the team, but still it was unable to demonstrate all it can. I believe our team performed worse than it could. We must have snatched a play-off ticket,” Mutko stressed.

“Taking the opportunity, I would like to say thanks to the fans,” he went on. “Rumors about their behavior, actively disseminated during the championship, are absolutely groundless. I met with fans who came to Warsaw from all over Russia. They are people who take to heart achievements of the team, they are in no way hooligans. It can be said once again that sport is an element of the consolidation of the nation, an element of patriotism. The players must remember that they are playing for their homeland, for their near and dear… The Poles were defeated as well, but they appeared in the fan zone and were met with applause. It is very important.”

Speaking about the responsibility of the state for successful performance of national teams, Mutko stressed that “it has never evaded responsibility.” “But it is important to draw a clear border line,” he noted. “It is a very difficult question. On the one hand, there is a football federation which has everything it needs and which is fully answerable. The federation leaders, its executive committee members must come out to take the responsibility and to provide explanation. The federation should play a key role, people must not stand aside. And it should be admitted that the new autumn-spring system, and false objectives, such as the code of honour, only divert from football. Even here, adopting a new championship schedule, we did absolutely unprofessionally. And the state is not allowed to have a say in this process. By now we have played a season and a half, and our players were practically exhausted before the Euro-2012. Unprofessionalism is fraught with problems,” he said.

“The state must find tools to influence the situation,” he noted. “Regrettably, after the Vancouver Olympic Games, all efforts to pass a law on sports federations have failed. It looks like the law has too many opponents, those who say the state should not interfere with their affairs. The federation must get it clear that it is not a bogus company, that it is better to play with the national emblem on the shirt than with an unknown home-painted bird, and not to withdraw into the shadow. I think this year we will be able to push the law holding a sports federation responsible for a defeat and vesting the state with the right to have a say in appointing a chief coach of a national team. Now I have no such authority,” Mutko said. “The federation must be held answerable. It should call a conference and purge its ranks. An open dialogue between all parties concerned is needed on the problem of Russia’s national football team, of the entire Russian football, rather than behind-the-scenes talk. We shall do our best to have it happen. As a matter of fact, even myself, despite my 15-year experience in this sphere, have a vague idea of where football is going. Now, I think we shall make a pause to see what kind of conclusions the federation draws, whether it is capable to sort things out. If it fails to solve the problem, we shall get involved.”

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