Moscow - Sports minister Vitaly Mutko and nationalist lawmaker
Igor Lebedev will square off for the post of president of Russia's beleaguered
football federation, the organisation said Tuesday.
Russia's football authorities are in disarray after the
sacking this month of Italian Fabio Capello as national team coach and the
forced departure of former federation head Nikolai Tolstykh in May.
The election will take place on September 2 with fans hoping
whoever takes the reins can bring some much needed stability to the rudderless
Russian Football Union (RFU).
The new boss' first task will be to secure a successor to
Capello with Russia's qualifying campaign for Euro 2016 foundering.
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Mutko, 56, who is a clear favourite after Prime Minister
Dmitry Medvedev agreed he could serve in two capacities, is no stranger to the
RFU, having served as its head from 2005 to 2009.
Deputy parliament speaker Lebedev, 42, son of flamboyant
nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, has previously said he is ready to
withdraw from the race if he is offered a post on the union's executive board.
Separately, Mutko has told the press that the national squad
will face the bigest names in world football in the run-up to the 2018 World
Cup to be held in Russia.
"We're set to resume the practice of meeting with the
world's top teams: Argentina, Brazil and the others," he said.
"These matches give our team precious experience.
Probably we will open the new 2018 World Cup venues with our national team's
Russia have previously met five-time World Cup winners
Brazil on five occasions since the collapse of the Soviet Union, losing three
times and drawing twice.
Russia have also suffered a 3-2 defeat at the hands of
Argentina in their only warm-up match in Moscow in 2009.For
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