September 24, 2016 / 11:26 AM / 3 years ago

Mutko wins new term as Russian Football Union president

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko has won a new four-year term as President of the Russian Football Union (RFU) following elections in Moscow on Saturday.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko delivers a speech during the Russian Soccer Union presidential vote at its conference in Moscow, Russia, September 24, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

The 57-year-old received 266 votes from delegates. His rival for the post was former Russia and CSKA Moscow coach Valery Gazzaev, who received 142 votes.

Mutko has had two spells in charge of the RFU, the first from 2005-09. He also became caretaker head of Russian soccer’s governing body in September 2015 when his predecessor Nikolay Tolstykh was removed by a vote of no-confidence after the organisation racked up substantial debts. 

“It was not an easy decision for me to decide to run for the presidency again,” Mutko told delegates at the conference.

“You know the situation in Russian football is difficult as we are experiencing certain problems. This is a crisis or a coma - everyone has their own thoughts. It is impossible not to see the fact that Russian football has huge potential and possibilities, but these are not being realised.

“Last year was very difficult for me. However, in a short space of time, we managed to consolidate things and started to move forward,” added Mutko, who is also chairman of the Russian Local Organising Committee for the 2018 World Cup.

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 there have been problems with some stadiums, particularly the one in St. Petersburg which is way over budget and will now cost an estimated 43.8 billion roubles (527.97 million pound).

Mutko has also come in for criticism regarding the doping scandal that has rocked Russian sport.

The country’s track and field athletes and weightlifters were barred from this year’s Rio Olympics after a World Anti-Doping Agency report uncovered systematic state-sponsored doping within the country.

Reporting by Dmitriy Rogovitskiy, editing by Ed Osmond

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