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Tycoon Usmanov to forgive loan given to pay debt to Russian football team coach Capello

July 14, 2015, 18:17 UTC+3 MOSCOW
"Now the RFU leadership is changing and new people are coming to work there, so I’ll hardly demand the return of the loan," Russian billionaire businessman says
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Alisher Usmanov

Alisher Usmanov

© ITAR-TASS Archive/Valery Sharifulin

MOSCOW, July 14. /TASS/. Russian billionaire businessman Alisher Usmanov said on Tuesday he would most likely make no demand on the return of a loan he gave to the Russian Football Union (RFU) to pay off wage arrears to the national team’s Head Coach Fabio Capello.

"Now the RFU leadership is changing and new people are coming to work there. So I’ll hardly demand the return of the loan," Usmanov said.

At the time Usmanov gave the loan, he was requested by the sports minster and not by the RFU to help, the businessman said.

Usmanov, who in the past helped the Russian Football Union to repay wage arrears to national team’s Head Coach Capello, said he knew nothing about the contract’s termination between the Italian specialist and the country’s governing body of football.

"I do not know about the decision on the termination [of the contract with Capello]," Usmanov told a news conference on Tuesday.

Russian football team's coach Fabio Capello dismissal

The RFU announced earlier in the day that it reached an agreement with Capello on the early termination of the contract with the Italian specialist concerning his work in the capacity of the national team’s head coach.

The RFU paid no wages to the Italian coach between June 2014 and February 2015 and Usmanov, who is also the president of the International Fencing Federation (FIE) agreed to help the country’s governing body of football to repay the wage arrears.

Late last month Usmanov’s press office told TASS that the billionaire businessman would grant the RFU a 300-million-ruble loan to pay wage arrears to Capello. This sum is enough to pay all the wage arrears to the 69-year-old Italian coach at present.

The RFU paid wage arrears to the Italian specialist after taking out a preferential loan worth 400 million rubles ($7 million) also from Usmanov. The RFU subsequently paid wages to Capello for February and March but still had wage arrears for April and May.

Following Russia’s 0-1 defeat to Austria in the 2016 Euro Cup qualifier in Moscow on June 14, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko announced that the fate of Italian manager Capello at the helm of the national football team would be decided in the nearest future.

Qualifier’s defeat in Moscow in mid-June placed in extreme jeopardy Russia’s chances of travelling to France in 2016 for the Euro Cup. The Russian national team is now ranked 3rd in its qualifying Group G with 8 points below 2nd ranked Sweden (12 points), while the Austrian team increased its lead over the rest of the five national teams in the group to 16 points.

National team’s defeat on June 14 raised a storm of criticism not only among the football fans and sports experts, but among Russian politicians as well.

Italian phenomenon Capello took over the national team as the head coach in July of 2012 and managed to help the Russian 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.

Russia did not sever the contract with Capello after the Russian team’s weak 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.

Russia’s daily Novaya Gazeta published in late April 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 euros ($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.

Earlier media reports estimated the compensation for RFU’s unilateral severance of the contract with Capello at some $25 million.

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