Mutko out, Sorokin in? Russia looks to maintain position at FIFA’s top table

Alexei Sorokin

By Andrew Warshaw

March 24 – Alexey Sorokin, the public face both of Russia’s successful 2018 World Cup bid and the tournament’s organisation, says he is keen to take the place of the barred Vitaly Mutko on FIFA’s ruling Council to ensure his country retains a powerful voice at FIFA’s top table

Mutko, one of the most powerful figures in world sport, failed an eligibility test last month because of a clash between his sporting and political interests and will therefore not be standing for re-election as a European member of the Council when UEFA holds its annual congress in Helsinki on April 5.

Ditching the World Cup chief, head of the Russian FA and deputy prime minister from FIFA’s supreme decision-making body represents a highly embarrassing blow both for Russia’s global sporting image and its World Cup organisers.

UEFA recently announced they will have to hold a one-off special election for one single place on the FIFA Council since there are now only three candidates being elected for the four seats available at the Helsinki congress.

That second election is likely to come in September and Sorokin, the multi-lingual, hands-on CEO of Russia’s organising committee, says he is now willing to stand though whether this will be permitted under eligibility rules remains to be seen.

“Theoretically, such an option [to stand as a candidate instead of Mutko] is possible,” Sorokin told Russia Today. “For us the most important thing is for Russia not to lose its place in the council after the aforementioned events. But the RFU will decide this.

“By procedure the RFU will put forward a candidate to UEFA, then UEFA presents the candidate to FIFA to check if they are eligible.. If the RFU puts forward my candidacy, it will be a huge honour for me. The elections are soon, so we need to talk with UEFA about it.”

“The main thing, I repeat, is for Russia to preserve its place in the council,” he added.

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