Government minister takes over Russian football

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has taken over control of the country’s football association ahead of the 2018 World Cup, with promises of government money for the sport.

The arrival of Mutko, who also oversees Russia’s World Cup preparations, comes as Swiss prosecutors investigate alleged corruption in the bidding process for the 2018 tournament. Mutko has been a member of FIFA’s executive committee since 2009 and played a leading role in Russia’s winning bid.

He takes over from Nikolai Tolstykh, who was ousted as Russian Football Union president in May after disputes over the organization’s debts.

After he was elected unopposed Wednesday, Mutko talked up state support for football, saying the government planned to spend 7 billion rubles ($100 million) on developing the game, in comments reported by the R-Sport agency.