MOSCOW: Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko thinks that Russian football should abandon the just-accomplished switch to an autumn-spring season ion a further swipe at Sergey Fursenko, the fast-exiting federation president.
Fursenko, former boss of Zenit St Petersburg and a driving force behind the turning around of the Russian season, resigned in the wake of the national team’s first-round elimination from Euro 2012 last week.
The Russian season, traditionally, started in March and ended in November, but has recently completed an 18-month transitional championship to align itself with the western European league championships. Mutko, a member of the FIFA executive committee, has seized on the Euro 2012 flop to attack the turn-around.
He said: “I’d change everything back. We’re a winter country, anyway.” Mutko accepted that instant revisionism was impossible but suggested a change back could follow the 2018 hosting of the World Cup finals. Organising a World Cup would inevitably take more than two months out of the ‘summer season.’
Many leading players have criticised the switch and thus lined up with Mutko who was president of the Russian Football Union from 2005 to 2009.
Fursenko has appeared prepared to remain in the presidency until after a meeting with President Vladimir Putin on the team’s return from Poland and Ukraine.
He then announced: “I have made a decision that was hard for me, to leave the post of president of the Russian Football Union. I want to apologize to the supporters for this result. It’s a pity because the team was very strong, a very good job was done by [coach] Dick Advocaat.”
Fursenko’s deputy, veteran former international, Nikita Simonyan will serve as acting president of the union.
Russia went into Euro 2012 on the back of a 14-game unbeaten run and started it by beating the Czech Republic 4-1, but a 1-1 draw with co-hosts Poland and then a surprise 1-0 defeat to Greece sent the Russians home.
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