Vitaly Mutko steps down as head of World Cup organising committee
Russian deputy prime minister was banned for life from Olympics earlier in December
Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko has stepped down as head of World Cup organising committee. Photograph: Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA
Vitaly Mutko has resigned from his role as the 2018 World Cup organising committee’s chairman less than six months before the tournament begins in Russia.
Having confirmed he had temporarily vacated his position as the Russian Football Union president on Monday, Mutko has now left his post as part of the team preparing next summer’s tournament, with Alexey Sorokin taking on the job.
The resignation of Mutko, currently Russia’s deputy prime minister, comes in the same month the former minister of sport received a lifetime ban from the International Olympic Committee following an investigation into allegations of state-sponsored doping.
The Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the World Cup stressed that Mutko’s departure would “not affect the preparation” for the competition, which begins on June 14 when the hosts face Saudi Arabia in Moscow.
A statement from the LOC read: “It is with great regret that the Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee (LOC) has learnt of the decision taken today by Vitaly Mutko, deputy prime minister of the Russian Federation, to tender with immediate effect his resignation as chairman of the LOC and from all related positions, including the chairs of the LOC managing board and the LOC supervisory board.
“At the level of the local organising committee, LOC CEO and Fifa Council member, Alexey Sorokin, will assume the functions previously held by Mr Mutko. Alexey Sorokin will be responsible for delivering the 2018 Fifa World Cup in his dual role as chairman and chief executive officer of the local organising committee.
“The change in the leadership of the Russia 2018 local organising committee will not affect the preparation of the 2018 Fifa World Cup.
“Given his ongoing duties as a member of the federal government of Russia, deputy prime minister Mutko will continue to oversee the preparations of the regions as well as coordinate the construction of the necessary infrastructure.
“Our goal remains unchanged — to host the tournament at its best organisational level for the fans and participants.”
That view was echoed by Mutko, who told R-Sport: “I will concentrate on working in the government.
“Sorokin will carry out the functions of both the chairman of the organising committee and our representative in Fifa. There is still a lot of work, but I am absolutely sure that everything will be ready on time and (by) May 30th all the documents (will be) in Fifa.”
A Fifa spokesperson said: “Fifa has taken note of the decision by Mr Vitaly Mutko to resign from his position as chairman of the 2018 Fifa World Cup local organising committee.
“Fifa thanks Mr Mutko for his invaluable contribution to the preparations for the competition so far.
“Fifa will continue to work in close collaboration with the LOC under its new leadership as well as with the Russian government, the Russian Football Union and the host cities with the aim to deliver an exceptional event in June and July.”