(ATR) Days after temporarily stepping aside as president of the Russian Football Union, Vitaly Mutko is out as head of the Russia 2018 World Cup organizing committee.
Vitaly Mutko (Kremlin)
Mutko confirmed his departure to Russian news agencies today. During a press conference Mutko said that Alexi Sorokin will be elevated to head of the organizing committee. Sorokin served as director of the committee under Mutko.
"[Sorokin] is the head of the organizing committee starting today,” Mutko said, reported by Russian news agencies. “He will interact with FIFA. I will concentrate on work in the government. There is still a lot of work but I am absolutely sure that everything will be prepared in time.”
Russian organizers said that venues would be delivered to FIFA by May 30 for the 2018 World Cup.
Leaving the Russia 2018 organizing committee is the second high profile departure for Mutko this week. The deputy prime minister, and ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, temporarily stepped down as president of the RFU to challenge his Olympic ban in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The IOC banned Mutko for life from the Olympic Games as part of his “failure to respect” anti-doping rules as Russian sports minister. Mutko was not implicated in a role in the state sponsored doping system but the IOC banned him due to his role as minister overseeing Sochi preparations. He has continued to deny any evidence of a state sponsored scheme, despite evidence from the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Russian media reported after Mutko departed the RFU that the move was done to stave off international criticism in the final days of Russia 2018 preparations. Mutko had served on the FIFA Council this year until he was expelled in March over possible government interference from his role as deputy prime minister.
Russia 2018 said in a statement "the change in leadership will have no consequences on the process of preparations for the world championship". Russia 2018 said that Mutko will not be fully removed from World Cup planning and will “coordinate building the necessary infrastructure in his role as the deputy prime minister”.
Written by Aaron Bauer
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