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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Soccer Head Welcomes Corruption Legislation

Nikolai Tolstykh, president of the Russian Football League, has welcomed the government's support in the battle against bribery and corruption in Russian soccer.


It was announced earlier this week that a federal commission had been set up to fight corruption after the new criminal code, beginning Jan. 1, introduced punishments for bribery and match-fixing. "We always had the power and authority to deal with corruption on the level of football," said Tolstykh, who is known for his uncompromising stand against corruption. "Now with this new legislation, it gives us much more leverage to stamp out the disease in football called match-fixing."


Rumors of match-fixing and corruption have been rife for decades in Russian soccer, but until recently no one could prove it.


A break-through case occurred last fall, according to Tolstykh, when the RFL's Executive Board voted unanimously to suspend indefinitely Vladikavkaz-based second division club Eriston from league competition for attempting to bribe the opposition.


"We had indisputable evidence, taped phone conversations and witnesses' testimony to prove the case against Eriston officials," Tolstykh said, adding that "if such a case happened this season, those officials would have also faced criminal prosecution."


Although corruption has not overwhelmed Russian soccer, Tolstykh said, "there are separate cases of it."


In his other role as Dinamo president, Tolstykh was involved in a well-publicized incident with referee Yury Chebotaryov in the Dinamo-Alania Vladikavkaz match last March.


In that match, Chebotaryov awarded Alania a suspicious penalty kick, causing an uproar from home fans and Moscow officials. The referee was assaulted after the game in the Dinamo locker room.


Tolstykh was temporarily suspended from his duties as Dinamo president for his part in the incident but was later vindicated while Chebotaryov was dropped from the list of premier division referees.


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A top Russian soccer official has denied that his country plans to bid for the 2006 World Cup, contrary to a statement by FIFA president Joao Havelange.


"It has never even occurred to us to submit a bid for Russia to host the World Cup,'' said Vladislav Radionov, secretary general of the RFL.


Havelange was quoted in the French sports daily L'Equipe this week as saying, "All national associations are free to bid. Those are our statutes. Having been there recently, I know that Russia will submit its candidacy.''


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Seven Russian premier league teams, including each of the three newly promoted clubs, must play their first two home fixtures of the 1997 season on neutral ground as punishment for failing to install undersoil heating.


The teams are KamAZ Naberezhniye Chelny, Krylya Sovietov Samara, Rostselmash Rostov and Baltika Kaliningrad, Fakel Voronezh, Shinnik Yaroslavl and Dynamo-Gazovik.


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Sergei Ovchinnikov, Russia's imposing and extrovert goalkeeper, has joined Benfica. He will move from Lokomotiv Moscow to Lisbon in the summer for an undisclosed transfer fee. (MT, Reuters)