Russian Football Union president sacked

Moscow, June 1 (IANS) The Russian Football Union (RFU) president Nikolai Tolstoy has been sacked after a censure vote during the Moscow conference of the country’s top football organisation.

According to local media outlets on Sunday, a total of 235 delegates, 10 more than were needed, voted to fire Tolstoy, who had headed the RFU since September 2012, reports Efe.

Both the sports ministry and Russian League champions Zenit St. Petersburg had pushed to have Tolstoy booted immediately.

Among other cricitism, Tolstoy is considered to be the main person responsible for the terrible financial condition of the RFU, which is hobbled by millions of dollars in debt.

As a result, Russian team coach Fabio Capello has not been paid for several months, a situation that was on the verge of causing the Italian to resign right away as the qualification phase for the 2016 Eurocup, to be played in France, is under way.

Deputy sports minister Yuri Nagorny had demanded that Tolstoy be fired, saying, among other things, that “attendance at the stadiums has declined and there are only scandals in the press”.

He said that a change in RFU leadership is a basic first step in introducing the reforms needed to modernise and revitalise Russian football with an eye to the 2018 World Cup.

Legendary footballer and RFU vice president Nikita Simonian will take over the leadership of Russian football temporarily until an election for a new union leader can be held in three months.

The Russian championship ended on Saturday with Zenit securing their fourth title.

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