Russian football’s reputation is sinking as fast as the rouble with the federation’s continued failure to pay Fabio Capello wages due since before the World Cup finals in Brazil last summer.
The most recent deadline passed on Monday with the Russian Football Union ignoring an order by the Russian Federal Labour and Employment (Rostrud) to pay its national coach.
While the RFU is widely acknowledged to have long had financial problems suspicions exist that internal critics of Capello are hoping he will lose patience at the continued stalemate and walk away from the whole sorry mess.
Michel Platini, French president of UEFA, has made no secret of his irritation, particularly at a time when the RFU is trying to persuade him to accept a second Russian representative on the European federation exco in addition to Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko.
Capello last received any wages before the World Cup from which Russia were dismissed within little more than the first week of competition, prompting complaints and demands for an inquiry from members of the Duma.
The RFU’s failure to pay up means that president Nikolai Tolstykh risks being suspended from its management for up to three years for failing to pay an employee. He has admitted that the RFU has received a first tranche of its World Cup hand-out from FIFA but claimed that was not enough to meet Capello’s outstanding wages. A part-payment was possible.
Part of the problem stems from the contract terms. A four-year contract extension signed a year ago lays down that Capello should be paid €8m-a-year. Though the contract is set in euro it is paid in roubles and the currency collapse means that Capello’s wages have virtually doubled since the summer, exacerbating the size of the debt.
Platini, in Moscow in both his UEFA role and as president of the 2018 FIFA World Cup organising committee, discussed the impasse with both Capello and Tolstykh.
He said: “It is clearly wrong that Capello is not being paid his salary. This is a very bad advertisement for Russia in the run-up to its own hosting of the World Cup.”
Rostrud officials, with the payment deadline having passed, are empowered to enter the RFU offices and seize property to defray the debt. Mutko’s Sports Ministry is refusing to bail out the RFU. “This,” he has insisted, “is an issue which the football federation must solve.”