Russia: National Football Union President Sacked

The Russian Football Union (RFU) has voted to sack its president Nikolai Tolstykh.

Nikolai Tolstykh According to the Moscow Times, 235 delegates voted in favour and 196 against Tolstykh's dismissal at an RFU conference on Sunday. He'd come under fire during his tenure for the RFU's accumulation of debts worth about US$ 26 million, which put the organization at risk of bankruptcy.

In addition, together with Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, Tolstykh was one of the signatories of a controversial deal made in January 2014 to extend the contract of Italian football coach Fabio Capello.

Capello has been heavily criticized by Russian officials for the poor results of Russia's national football team, which has been under his guidance since 2012.

The extension meant Capello would head the team for another four years with an annual salary of about US$ 8 million, plus incentives worth additional millions.

It would see Capello continuing his role throughout the 2018 World Cup, which is to be hosted in Russia.

OCCRP reporters working with Novaya Gazeta uncovered that the same day the extension was signed, Capello's signature also appeared on another contract with two murky offshore companies – one of which has allegedly been involved in a large-scale money-laundering scandal.

According to the Guardian, Capello went unpaid for seven months up to February this year due to financial difficulties at the RFU, while economic turmoil unfolded in Russia with the fall of the Russian ruble.

Capello was only paid when Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov stepped in and offered the funds.

RFU vice-president Nikita Simonyan, 88, will take Tolstykh's place temporarily until a new president is announced.