Football Chief Gets Sports Job

Despite his humble origins as a sailor on a riverboat, Vitaly Mutko, who was chosen to head the newly created Sport, Youth and Tourism Ministry, has a wealth of administrative experience and high-ranking contacts.

Mutko's previous jobs have involved handling social issues for the mayor of St. Petersburg, chairing the Zenit St. Petersburg football club and heading up the Russian Football Union.

As a deputy to St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak in the 1990s, Mutko, 49, worked with Vladimir Putin to organize the 1994 St. Petersburg Goodwill Games.

Mutko's portfolio does not, however, put him in charge of overseeing preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. That duty falls to Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov.

"Mutko is a very competent and very responsible manager," said Vatanyar Yagya, who worked as an adviser to Sobchak. "If he said that he would do something, then he always did it."

Since April 2005, Mutko has headed the Russian Football Union. In 2006, Mutko hired renowned Dutch coach Guus Hiddink, who guided the national team to this summer's Euro-2008 tournament.

Commenting on his new appointment, Mutko said he still hoped to fly to Manchester, England, on Wednesday to watch Zenit take on Glasgow Rangers in the UEFA Cup Final, Itar-Tass reported.