Capello on the brink with Russian football in crisis

Even if FIFA scandals were not placing Russia’s right to host the 2018 World Cup under scrutiny, Russian football would still be in crisis. National team coach Fabio Capello is on the brink of being fired, the national football federation is leaderless and fans are turning away from the game, with Premier League attendances dropping to levels last seen in the chaotic and poverty-stricken 1990s.
On Sunday in Moscow, exactly three years before the first game of the World Cup, Russia slumped to a 1-0 defeat to Austria. The World Cup host has just two wins from its last 10 games — one against tiny Liechtenstein, the other awarded by default when a match was abandoned due to crowd trouble. Its last competitive goal was scored eight months ago.
Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has said Capello could be fired this month, but that is not quick enough for two fans who have started an online campaign to oust him by unusual means — they are collecting money online to buy out his contract.
“We think that anyone who isn’t indifferent to the fate of football in Russia has been deeply disappointed by our national team’s performances recently,” write Anton Danilkovich and Vladislav Shunaev. “We’ve all had our souls spat on.”
The crowdfunding bid, entitled “Fabio, go home,” received wide media coverage in Russia on Tuesday within hours of its launch, though it’s not clear how much has actually been raised.
The reason for the fundraising is a generous contract extension handed to Capello last year, reportedly worth 7 million euros (USD7.9 million) a year with a clause specifying over 21 million euros ($23.5 million) in compensation if he is fired. With the Russian Football Union deeply in debt and losing money, it is hard to see how it could afford to fire Capello, so the fans have decided to do it themselves.
Mutko, the sports minister and chairman of the World Cup organizing committee, has said he expects a decision on Capello’s future by July 10 at the latest, but signaled some support for the beleaguered Italian. “I’m not a fan of blaming everything on departing coaches,” he told the R-Sport agency on Tuesday. James Ellingworth, AP

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