Country can’t do it – FIFA will help. Who will save Russian football from Vitaly Mutko?

Vitaly Mutko has had an unclear year, to put it mildly. Several doping scandals that shocked Russian sport could lead to the minister's dismissal in any other European country. However, in our country, Vitaly Mutko was promoted to vice-PM of Russia on Sport. On the other hand, this decision gave hope to all football fans. But Mutko did not leave his post as president of the Football Union of Russia. ''Help'' came from an unexpected place. According to the British media, having launched a preliminary investigation, the FIFA Ethics Committee was interested in the functionary.

Mutko can be banned from football

According to The Daily Mail, FIFA paid attention to Richard McLaren's report where the president of the Russian Football Union is mentioned many times. If FIFA finds any violation of the Code of Ethics and proves Mutko's guilt in court, the Russian functionary will be ejected from the organisation and banned from football. McLaren's team is supposed to have a proof that Mutko is implicated in the doping scandal.

Vitaly Mutko's reaction to foreign biathletes' statements about a possible boycott of the World Cup in case of unfair punishment of Russians for doping is an illustrative example.

''I have nothing to comment here. There will be a hearing of the International Federation. Let them hear, make a decision. But using athletes in these issues… That's to say, they don't have any foundation to make such statements. Both the national team and other athletes work hard, compete with them in all the stages and undergo controls. It is unclear whom they want to boycott today,'' R-Sport cited Mutko's words.

McLaren's team is supposed to have a proof that Mutko is implicated in the doping scandal. Photo:

''It is unclear'' and ''nothing to say'' is quite an expert value by the vice-PM of Russia, and no mistake. To tell the truth, I carefully read Vitaly Mutko's statement twice. I did not understand its meaning at all. So I have nothing to comment as well.

There is another issue that is worthy of great attention. To look for an interference of the West and conspiracy theory have been very trendy in the world of Russian sport. Let's imagine that it's true. So why did Mutko allow it? Why do Anglo-Saxons and their puppets have the most in the majority of international sports entities? Why did not Fursenko send our representative to the FIFA Executive Committee having said ''We don't need it?'' Why did not Mr Mutko support Tikhonov in the fight for the post of the International Biathlon Union president? It is necessary to write another article to enumerate all these ''whys'' on the state's inactivity in sport.

Is doping control needed?

''I personally understand that Mutko doesn't feed anybody on doping personally. But if Russian sport is under serious pressure, some measures are needed,'' famous football manager Alexey Safonov told Realnoe Vremya. ''Although I think that elite sport is unreal without medicine. I think it's high time to lift all these limits in professional sport. People themselves should think about a possible harm to their health. We are speaking about professional sport. A control is needed in amateur and mass sport. It turns out that the entire world takes a drug, but it is not found in all people's blood. Look at Chinese who have been winning all possible victories in the recent time. It means that their medicine took the lead, not athletes. Amateurs and professionals need to be divided concerning doping.

Do you mean that in professional sport doping should not be persecuted at all? Only in amateur sport?

Yes, I do.

All anti-doping organisations are an indispensable part of sport, which, in turn, became a business a long time ago. And anti-doping fighters won't give up without a fight. Photo:

What do you think about Mutko's job against the background of all these doping scandals?

He is a good manager who trims his sails. Whatever happened, he always managed to get away. He is lucky, so to speak. Any minister of sport in European countries could have problems because of such scandals.

Generally speaking, there is sound sense in Safonov's words about the feasibility of doping control in professional sport. Athletes who make money in sports venues can decide on their own whether to pose their health under risk or not. By the way, it correlates with all possible ''personal liberties'', which are so popular in the West that rules in sports laws. But all anti-doping organisations are an indispensable part of sport, which, in turn, became a business a long time ago. And anti-doping fighters won't give up without a fight. So, there is nothing to talk about.

What a ''swamp'' Russian football turned into

Meanwhile, if misfortunes of Russian sport are linked with doping scandals in general, Russia has problems in football at every turn. Performances of the national team are the biggest problem. If we forget politesse, it rapidly degraded. Curiously, some experts warned when adopting the limit on the number of foreign players: a substitution of a sports competition for artificial limits won't be to the good. So it was true. The limit killed the competition. But salaries of football players have shot up. As a result, there is a paradox. A Russian football player who has not achieved anything in European football started to get money (not to earn) like world stars. Only players of the calibre of Messi, Ronaldo and others get more.

A refusal of leading Russian football players to go to European championships became the second result. Moreover, it is difficult to have grievances against Kokorin and his friends. Who of us will agree to considerably reduce our salary being sound in mind, especially if we have to work much harder? Right, nobody. So here not football players but the established system is guilty where they are closely connected with their native ''swamp'', which, in fact, became a ''gilded cage''.

Performances of the national are the biggest problem. If we forget about politesse, it rapidly degraded. Photo:

In addition, obviously partial refereeing in Russian football and the formal existence of the Russia Football Premier League in general can be considered as Vitaly Mutko's ''merits''. Problems of the national squad are worthy of separate lines. The results of the 2016 Euro became a new sign of the fall of Russian football. We fell to a level when a big defeat inflicted by the Welsh squad did not surprise anybody. It is a telling fact that the last successful generation of Russian football players came back in the absence of the limit. I mean Arshavin, Kerzhakov, Pavlyuchenko, Zhirkov, the Berezutskys, Ignashevich, etc. The limit, in turn, that was due to give new players to the squad, according to the authors of the idea, resulted in feather-bedded millionaires – Kokorin, Schennikov, Kombarov, Dzyuba, Shatov and other ''stars'' of Russian football who show their non-competitiveness in European Championships and matches of the national squad beyond the Russian Football Premier League.

''Our football is being in decline''

How do you assess the work of Mutko as president of the Russian Football Union? All these ''games behind-the-scenes'', limits on foreign players?

Anyway, I think that he is professor, — we continue the conversation with Alexey Safonov. He everything knows perfectly. He is a good chess player, he understands the situation well.

In comparison with the 1990s, the Russian football enjoys all pleasures, but the results haven't become better. As for the national team, it has been even worse.

There is a saying: like food, like bass. A man comes to a philharmonic society and tells: Look, I have a bass voice. He starts to sing and they say to him: You have not a bass voice, you have a falsetto. He responds: like food, like bass. Here it is the same. Nature can't be fooled, I think, that our football is being in decline.

Alexey Safonov: ''It is pity that it is impossible to appoint a tandem as the president of the Union. Gazzaev-Mutko would be a perfect option. The first is stronger in football, the second has contacts and resources.'' Photo:

But how guilty is Mutko?

God knows. He had glory hours when he was working in Zenit and he prevented the club from drowning. But then… I'm not going to blame him, I think that nobody is able to change anything. He should be given proper respect when Tolstykh ''accumulated'' debts, Vitaly Mutko saved the situation, having used all his resources and contacts. Otherwise, the Russian Football Union could bankrupted. It is pity that it is impossible to appoint a tandem as the president of the Union. Gazzaev-Mutko would be a perfect option. The first is stronger in football, the second has contacts and resources. Unfortunately, it is impossible, what is more – they are totally different, believes Safonov.

We didn't expect tough words from the permanent participant of the system of functioning of our football. Meanwhile, earlier FIFA Ethics Committee did not confirm that the investigation on Vice President of Russian on Sport Vitaly Mutko has been started. ''We cannot confirm that the Ethics committee started the investigation. The Investigation Chamber can inform about this only after the start of the official investigation. The official investigation will be opened if something is revealed after a possible preliminary investigation. We would like to note that at the moment no official investigation is underway,' states the press service of the FIFA Ethics Committee. Anyway, it also can't be called a denial, so there is still hope for the survival of the Russian football from outside. Cross the fingers.

By Artur Khalilullov

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