(WFI) Vitaly Mutko, sports minister and 2018 World Cup chief, has increased his grip on Russian football after being unanimously elected president of the country’s soccer federation on Wednesday.
The FIFA vice president was the sole candidate in the election after government minister Igor Lebedev withdrew in July.
On taking up the post, Mutko admitted he faced a considerable challenge to address the Russian Football Union’s debt crisis.
“The most important thing is to pay off the debts that the RFU owes and they are huge,” he told a press conference, according to news agencies Reuters and AFP.
“I don`t want to dramatise the situation, but we are basically on the edge of going bankrupt. That means we will have to attract new sponsors and optimize the RFU costs quickly.
“But first of all we need to set up a proper system of management in the country’s football,” he said, adding that he wanted “to make sure that football is going in the right direction. It is not very good when no one understands who and where all the decisions are being taken”.
The 56-year-old also underlined the importance of Russia qualifying for Euro 2016 in France, an important milestone ahead of the Russian 2018 World Cup. Mutko chairs the organizing committee.
Mutko, who held the RFU position from 2005 until 2009, will serve for a year until new elections in September 2016. He takes over from Nikolai Tolstykh who quit in May after a vote of no confidence from Russian FA members.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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