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City news, 07.02.2005 18:23

Putin's Man Nominated as Russian Soccer Chief

Putin's Man Nominated as Russian Soccer Chief President Vladimir Putin's close friend, politician Vitaly Mutko, has been officially put forward as a candidate to replace axed soccer chief Vyacheslav Koloskov, local media reported Saturday. Mutko, 46, a member of the Federation Council, was nominated to be the next president of the Russian Football Union by the football federation of St. Petersburg, Russia's second city and hometown to both Mutko and Putin. Mutko headed Premier League side Zenit St. Petersburg and served as Russian Football League chief between 2001 and 2003.

"I've heard the talk about me understanding little about football ... but it is all rubbish," Sovietsky Sport quoted Mutko as saying. "I'm not afraid of anything."

The general assembly of the RFU is due to vote for its next president April 2. So far the only other official nominee is ex-Soviet Union goalkeeper Anzor Kavazashvili, put forward by the All-Russia Football Association on Friday, Sport Express reported.

Koloskov, who resigned last month after more than 25 years in the job, had been under pressure from government officials to quit and had been told that Putin and others were "very unhappy at the way he had been running football in Russia."

Mutko said that if he were elected, his main task would be to shake up youth soccer to bring good players forward in the hope of improving results at the international level.

"I went through all this when I was in charge of Zenit," Sovietsky Sport quoted him as saying. "As soon as we paid attention to the youth school, they started winning bronze and silver medals."

In a separate meeting Friday, the Amateur Football League of Russia decided it would support Roman Abramovich, billionaire owner of English Premier League leader Chelsea, as a candidate, although it would officially announce its choice later this month.

"Roman Abramovich meets the criteria the best: He knows the football world from inside, is an effective organizer and manager who already has authority in the international football arena," the Amateur Football League said in a statement.

It was not clear whether Abramovich was himself interested in the job.

n Police took documents and copies of hard disks from the offices of the RFU, local media reported Saturday. Police from the economic crimes department also looked in Koloskov's office.

"The inspection is linked to checking the actions of the management of the RFU in selling players abroad," Ekho Moskvy radio quoted a department representative as saying.

"Apart from that, tax payments of the RFU in connection with these deals between 2002 and 2004 will have to be checked. The management of the RFU has not responded to our inquiries over the past eight months, refusing to give us the necessary information."

Police said their visit had not been a "search," but rather an "inspection," since no criminal case had been opened.

News source:

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