Minister criticizes plan for ex-Soviet clubs soccer league

AFP, MOSCOW

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 - Page 20

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has attacked a proposal to create a post-Soviet soccer league by grouping together the best teams of the former USSR.

The ambitious plan was mooted earlier this month by Alexei Miller, the chief of Gazprom, owner and main sponsor of reigning Russian champions Zenit St Petersburg, and has gained support from top clubs.

Muktko, however, criticized the idea of a Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) league saying that various “ill-conceived plans” were preventing the Russian public from focusing on soccer’s true problems in the country.

“My personal attitude to the CIS championships is completely clear,” Mutko told the Sport Express daily in an interview yesterday.

“I’m Russian sports minister and my priority is the development of sports and physical culture in our country, nowhere else,” he said. “I don’t see any motivation in the CIS championship.”

“The Russian league is among Europe’s top 10 championships and our clubs have fair chances to battle into the Champions League to face Europe’s top sides there,” Mutko said.

Mutko said that the creation of the cross-border league would likely ruin the existing structure of the Russian soccer championship, adding that the order of determination of Russia’s participants in the UEFA Champions’ and Europa leagues in the suggested project was completely unclear.