MOSCOW Newly appointed Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko said on Thursday he might stand down as president of the Russian Football Union (RFU) as preparations for the 2018 World Cup, which the country is hosting, are stepped up.
President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday appointed Mutko as deputy prime minister for sports, tourism and youth policy, an effective promotion from his previous governmental role as sports minister.
Mutko, who oversaw Russia’s disappointing showing at Euro 2016, became caretaker head of the RFU in September 2015 when his predecessor, Nikolay Tolstykh, was removed by a vote of no-confidence.
He was reappointed last month but was quoted as telling the TASS news agency on Thursday he was now “examining this possibility” of standing down.
“The World Cup is coming soon… We will consult with the heads of FIFA and UEFA,” Mutko said.
Russian football has been in crisis since 2014 due to the crash of the rouble and the need to pay off former national team coach Fabio Capello’s multi-million dollar salary.
Spending for the 2018 World Cup has largely been unaffected but a new stadium in St. Petersburg is way over budget.
Mutko has also come in for criticism regarding the doping scandal that has rocked Russian sport and led to the barring from this year’s Rio Olympics of the country’s track and field athletes and weightlifters.
Putin said Pavel Kolobkov, Mutko’s deputy, would replace him as sports minister.
(Reporting By Dmitriy Rogovitskiy; editing by John Stonestreet)
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