KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Vitaly Mutko, under fire once more over how much he knew and what role he may have played in Russia’s doping programme, is pursing re-election to football’s governing FIFA Council.
Mutko, promoted from Russia’s Sports Ministry to a Deputy Prime Minister in the wake of the doping scandal and the Rio Olympic Games, is also president of both the national football union as well as of the 2018 World Cup local organising committtee.
European federation UEFA, of whose executive committee he is a member, has indicated that Mutko is one of five candidates standing in April for its four ‘ordinary member’ slots on the FIFA Council.
The other contenders are Hungarian Sandor Csanyi, a current UEFA exco member, Iceland federation president Geir Thorsteinsson, Montenegro’s former Milan star Dejan Savicevic and Cyprus FA leader Costakis Koutsokoumnis.
Three vacancies have been created by the retirement of long-serving Michel D’Hooghe (Belgium), Senes Erzik (Turkey) and Marios Lefkaritis (Cyprus).
All three – plus Mutko – were members of the former FIFA executive committee which voted, in December 2010, to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.
FIFA reforms mean that all candidates in line for appointment or re-appointment must undergo an integrity check.
The World Anti-Doping Agency has called on the FIFA ethics committee to investigate Mutko for his role in connection with the Russian doping scandal as outlined by inquiry leader Richard McLaren.
It has been noted that McLaren was careful at a news briefing last Friday to avoid pointing a direct finger of blame for the system at Mutko personally. However a grey area concerns how he may have been involved in covering up a positive doping test by a Russian league player from Uzbekistan.
McLaren said that around 1,000 sportsmen and women from 30 sports in Russia, including a number of foreign footballers, benefited directly or indirectly from a state-supported doping cover-up system.