MOSCOW: The latest excuse for Russia’s poor showing at Euro 2012 has come from Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, suggesting that the 18-month transition season was too tough – and warning that the new autumn-spring season risks football chaos on and off the pitch.

Russia is switching its season around to fell in line with most of the rest of Europe. But the proposed new schedule has three rounds of the championship in December which has been criticised by players – and now by Mutko who is also a member of  the executive committee of world federation FIFA.

He said: “Of course we can’t be playing in December. Whoever dreamed this up should be taken off to Novosibirsk. There is no sense in just killing football.”

December daytime highs average minus 5 degrees Celsius in Moscow, minus 4 in St Petersburg, and minus 16 in Novosibirsk, about 3,400 kilometers east of the Russian capital and home to second-tier side Sibir.

Last season lasted 14 months, starting in March 2011 and finishing this May to allow next season to begin in July, slightly earlier than the rest of Europe to allow for a winter break.

The long campaign was one of the reasons given by Mutko for the collapse of Russia’s national team at Euro 2012. After a bright 4-1 win over the Czech Republic, Russia were held 1-1 by co-hosts Poland and then eliminated after an upset defeat by Greece.

= = = =