Contract Feud May 'Distract' Hiddink

Russia coach Guus Hiddink warned on Sunday that his protracted contract negotiations could have a negative effect on the team during Euro 2008.

Hiddink was reported to have signed a new two-year deal in March but last week he criticized Russian FA president Vitaly Mutko for dragging out the contract negotiations.

"If I don't have it ready by Euro 2008, it's not the end of the world. I have a verbal agreement with the Russian FA and for me a handshake is just as good as a signed deal," Hiddink said as his side began preparations for next month's finals in Austria and Switzerland.

"But of course, ideally I would love to have it done before Euro 2008 because it could distract the team's attention," he added.

The highly successful coach, who led his native Netherlands to the 1998 World Cup semifinals before repeating the feat with South Korea four years later, has been repeatedly linked with top coaching jobs around the world.

"If I go to Euro 2008 without a contract, then every Western media would love to talk about my future. Probably at every news conference I will be asked that question, Hiddink said.

"I am not afraid of losing my job," he said. "I have plenty of offers from various clubs and national teams but I've said many times before I want to stay in Russia.

"We have made a big step forward in the last 18 months and I would love to continue my work."

The Dutchman dismissed media reports he would quit after the June 7-29 championship if the Russian FA did not act soon on its promise to extend his contract until the 2010 World Cup.

"I don't really know what the problem is." he said. "I've read some stories saying that I was asking for more money and a bigger bonus but it's not the case.

"The new contract is basically the same as the old. I can sign it any time they want," Hiddink said. "The ball is on their side now but they just keep me waiting for some reason."