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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Oilmen Want to Buy Russia a Soccer Chief

Two wealthy oil magnates ashamed of Russia's performance in the World Cup are offering to pay up to $1 million to a foreign coach who will take charge of the national team.

LUKoil vice president Leonid Fedun and Yukos-Moskva president Vasily Shakhnovsky wrote to the president of the Russian Football Union, Vyacheslav Koloskov, on Thursday, saying they are willing to foot the bill for a foreign specialist -- a bill that could cost up to $1 million a year.

"Vasily [Shakhnovsky] was at the World Cup -- I saw it from here and I was ashamed," Fedun told Vedomosti.

Russia failed to make the second round after losses to Japan and Belgium, meaning Russia has not reached the second round of a major international tournament in the last 10 years.

"The fact that we no longer live in a Soviet system hasn't reached sport yet. It still functions Soviet-style," said Fedun.

"Even in our company, I can tell of positive changes brought by the arrival of foreigners. These people bring a certain culture of doing business with them."

Fedun said Spartak coach Oleg Romantsev, who tendered his resignation as the national coach after the loss to Belgium, had proved he was the best in the country over the last 10 years, so if he couldn't succeed, no other Russian coach would.

"If the offer is not taken up, then Vyacheslav Koloskov has to understand that he carries the personal responsibility for naming the next trainer of the Russian team," said Fedun.

Their offer comes as Russian sports media have been discussing the possibilities of a foreign coach taking over the team. Leading national sports daily Sport-Express has been running a campaign to install a foreigner in the position and on Monday ran a front-page headline that said: "We Need Our Own Hiddink," referring to Dutch coach Guus Hiddink, who has unexpectedly led co-host South Korea to the quarterfinals.

Numerous countries, including three of the current World Cup quarterfinalists -- England, South Korea and Senegal -- use foreign coaches, although Russia and most major European soccer powers have only ever hired their own countrymen.

One persuasive example of what a foreign coach can do in former Soviet states is Italian Nevio Scala. Scala took over Ukrainian club Shaktyor Donetsk last year and immediately broke the stranglehold Dynamo Kiev had on Ukrainian soccer by taking Donetsk to its first league title.

When asked by Sport-Express, Koloskov said he was open to the idea of a foreign coach.

"If a decent candidate is recommended to me and fits, then why not?" said Koloskov. "Now, personally I haven't got anyone in mind. But we are ready to consider any offers."

The Russian FA, which has yet to officially accept Romantsev's resignation, will likely decide on a new coach next month. CSKA's Valery Gazzayev and Lokomotiv Moscow's Yury Syomin are the main Russian candidates for the job. Vedomosti, citing an unnamed source, reported that Gazzayev was certain for the position.