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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Squabbling Risks Next Russian Soccer Season




Russia's soccer chief has acted to crush his nearest rival's hopes of wresting control of the sport but admits that leading clubs may now break away and form their own competition.


The blow came last Thursday, when Russian Soccer Union, or RFU, president Vyacheslav Koloskov stripped virtually all the powers of his archrival, Nikolai Tolstykh, head of the Professional SoccerLeague.


Koloskov said the RFU would organize the nation's league and cup competitions from next season, taking control from Tolstykh's organization.


"The RFU executive board ruled against renewing our partnership agreement with the league," Koloskov said.


"From now on the federation will be solely responsible for the championship and the cup."


The RFU decision to scrap the deal, came just two days after Tolstykh was unanimously re-elected as league president for three more years.


The RFU decision to take control of the league and cup has put the future of next season's competition in doubt as several leading clubs have threatened to pull out of the RFU's championship and form their own tournament.


Koloskov has taken this threat calmly, conceding that some clubs might indeed boycott the championship.


"It's possible that we can have Moscow's Spartak, CSKA and Dynamo and a few others forming their own competition," he said.


"Well, in that case, those clubs would be forbidden from representing Russia in European competition."


Koloskov said he had been forced to cancel the agreement with the league because of a law that gives sole control of any sport to the national federation.


However, Tolstykh accused him of just using the new law as an excuse to defeat the opposition.


"I don't see any other reason for it, because the league has been getting nothing but praise for its work in the last few years," Tolstykh said.