This article originally appeared at Inside World Football
July 14 – Russian preparations for the 2018 World Cup may be progressing smoothly when it comes to building stadia and planning transport infrastructure, but dissatisfaction with the national team’s progress under coach Fabio Capello has resulted in his contract being terminated three years before the finals.
Capello’s future had been in discussion with the Russian Football Union since June of last year, which was the start of a six month period in which he went unpaid. Most of his backroom staff, who also had wages outstanding, had departed Russia months before the final decision to terminate Capello’s contract.
Nikita Simonyan, the RFU’s acting president, said that all outstanding money owed to Capello until the end of the 2014-15 season had been paid. R-Sport has put the level of the compensation at 930 million rubles ($16.34 million).
The RFU had been struggling for finance in the face of a lack of high paying sponsors. Capello’s contract was out of sync with the RFU’s economic situation, especially as his salary was negotiated and paid in euros at a time when the rouble was dropping in value, effectively almost doubling his cost to the federation.
But it was the Russian team performances that ultimately sealed his fate.
Capello took over the Russian team in 2012 and lead them to the Brazil 2014 World Cup following an impressive unbeaten qualifying campaign. But the Brazil tournament was a disappointment, with Russia being eliminated in the group stages.
With qualification for Euro2016 now looking more difficult following a surprise loss to Austria and just eight points won from six games, Russia will likely have to face a qualifying play off to reach the finals. The calls for Capello’s sacking were even being heard in the Russian Duma.
Russia is expecting a strong home team performance in 2018, but now looks to be running out of time to prepare a world beating squad, Euro2016 would be a crucial measure of the team’s progress.
The Executive Committee of the RFU has just passed a ‘6+5’ limit on the foreign players allowed to play in Russian football clubs – a rule believed vital to give Russian players experience at the top level. Previously the rule was for 10 foreign players and 15 Russians in a Superleague squad and ‘7+4’ players on the pitch (no more than seven foreign players on the pitch at any one time).
But the new rule may be too late to have any real effect on the national team by the World Cup in 2018.
No successor to Capello has been named but the RFU is expected to choose a Russian national as its next manager with CSKA Moscow coach Leonid Slutski being the current favourite for the job.