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Russian sports minister denies conflict with Russian Football Union

April 29, 2015, 14:47 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The minister admitted there are certain problems
1 pages in this article
Vitaly Mutko

Vitaly Mutko

© Mikhail Shapayev/TASS

MOSCOW, April 29. /TASS/. Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Wednesday he had no issues of contradiction with the Russian Football Union and he may be the last person at the moment supporting Russia’s football governing body.

"There is no standoff with the RFU," Mutko told a news conference in Moscow. "I may be the last person rendering support for his organization."

"There are two matches ahead of the Russian national team and they will decide everything. We may not qualify for the [2016] Euro Cup and we are engaged in such mess. Do we need it? We must be working to provide a holiday of football. Yes, there are problems. But where no problems exist at all? Each sport has its own problems," Mutko said.

Russia’s daily Novaya Gazeta published on Friday a copy of a contract inked by the RFU with Italian manager Capello in January of 2014.

In line with the document, which was signed until July 2018 and stipulated an annual salary of €7 million ($7.6 million) for the Italian coach, the RFU practically had no rights of severing the contract unilaterally without paying a penalty, while Capello was granted such opportunity. Some parts of the contract were signed by Sports Minister Mutko.

Earlier in the month the RFU received an inquiry from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which wanted to know whether Russia’s football governing body possibly collaborated with companies Chestersen Ltd and FARO Management in signing the contract with Capello.

The OCCRP suspects the Italian manager of having additional sources of income. Last week RFU President Nikolai Tolstykh told TASS that the contract with Capello was signed without the participation of any third party.

The OCCRP is a not-for-profit, joint program of a number of regional non-profit investigative centers and for profit independent media stretching from Eastern Europe to Central Asia, according to its official website.

Capello’s contract, which he initially signed in 2012 and extended for another four years in early 2014, was in the media spotlight late last year over the issue of wage arrears.

Capello and Oreste Cinquini, the Russian football team’s general manager, had been unpaid between last June and December. According to various media reports, RFU’s debt to Italian managers totaled some 600 million rubles ($9.7 million). On February 5, Russian billionaire businessman Alisher Usmanov extended 400 million rubles ($5.96 million) loan to the RFU to repay Capello’s wage arrears.

The RFU said in its statement on February 6 that it executed "the necessary financial transactions to repay wages to head coach of the Russian national team Fabio Capello," and thanked both Mutko and Usmanov for their help in the settlement of the debt repayment issue.

The Russian national squad experienced a string of setbacks over the past decade failing to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany and 2010 championship in South Africa to the great dismay of the Russian football fans.

Things changed when Italian phenomenon Capello took over the team as the head coach in July of 2012 and managed to help the Russian national squad to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The team, however, failed to clear the first stage of the much-anticipated global tournament putting their coach in the center of stern criticism and raising serious concerns in the country about the team’s performance in the next World Cup, which would be hosted by Russia in 2018.

However, Russia did not severe the contract with Capello after the Russian team’s performance at the World Cup in Brazil and the Italian manager also decided to stay with the Russian squad as the head coach until the year of 2018 as stipulated by the contract terms.

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