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Russian minister Mutko barred from FIFA re-election – sources

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko waits before an annual state of the nation address attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, December 1, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko waits before an annual state of the nation address attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, December 1, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

By Brian Homewood

ZURICH (Reuters) - Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko has been barred from standing for re-election for a place on the FIFA Council, sources close to the matter told Reuters on Friday.

The sources said that Mutko, who is also head of the Russian Football Union (RFU), had failed an eligibility test carried out by the FIFA review committee.

The sources said that Mutko had been barred because his ministerial role contravened the statutes of the global soccer body and that the decision was not connected to the doping scandal which has engulfed Russian sport.

Mutko was Russia's Minister of Sport from 2008 until last October, when he was promoted to his current position.

Russian sport was rocked last year by the publication of the McLaren report, commission by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which detailed a system of state-sponsored doping in the country.

It said that Moscow had concealed hundreds of positive doping cases from a variety of sports, including soccer.

The report said that Russian Deputy Sports Minister Yuri Nagornykh had decided which athletes would benefit from a cover-up, known as a SAVE order, although Mutko, it alleged, appeared to make the decision with regard to footballers.

Nagornykh was dismissed in October.

Mutko was among five candidates for four four-year term European places on the FIFA Council, which makes the key strategic decisions for the global soccer body.

The remaining four, who can now be elected unopposed, are Sandor Csyani (Hungary), Costakis Koutsokoumnis (Cyprus),Dejan Savicevic (Montenegro) and Geir Thorsteinsson (Iceland).

Mutko, 58, has sat on the Council since 2009, when it was known as the executive committee.

FIFA insists that the sport remains free of government interference. Article 23 of the FIFA statutes states that continental confederation such as UEFA must be "independent and avoid any form of political interference".

Article 19 also states that "each member association shall manage its affairs independently and without undue influence from third parties."

Although this is a long-standing rule, eligibility checks on candidates for office were only introduced last year in response to a corruption scandal.

The UEFA elections will take place at the UEFA Congress in Helsinki on April 5.

Germany's Reinhard Grindel is the only candidate for a further European place, which has a two-year term.

(Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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