Guus Hiddink linked with Turkey job as Russia gets new FA chief

00:00 - 4/02/2010 jeudi
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Guus Hiddink linked with Turkey job as Russia gets
Guus Hiddink linked with Turkey job as Russia gets

Russia's football federation today elected a new president amid speculation that Guus Hiddink is about to quit as coach of the national team and take up a new role with Turkey.

Delegates voted in Sergei Fursenko, the former president of Zenit St Petersburg, as the federation's new head. Fursenko comfortably defeated his nearest rival, the businessman Alisher Aminov, by 95 votes to 11, in a secret ballot this morning in Moscow's Kosmos hotel.

Fursenko's urgent chief task will be to hold negotiations with Hiddink, whose contract expires at the end of June. The Dutchman has refused to say whether he intends to prolong his contract with Russia following their unexpected failure to qualify for this summer's World Cup finals in South Africa.

Since Russia's defeat in their qualifying play-off to Slovenia last November, Hiddink has been linked to a series of ­high-profile coaching jobs, including with China and Morocco. Turkish television today reported that Hiddink has agreed to coach Turkey's national team.

The Istanbul newspaper Fanatik claimed that Hiddink is likely to sign a contract before Friday so that he can represent Turkey at this weekend's draw in Warsaw for the 2012 European Championship. The draw, for the tournament hosted by Poland and Ukraine, takes place on Sunday.

Yesterday, Speaking today, however, Fursenko ­indicated no rapid decisions would be taken over Hiddink's coaching future. He said: "In any affair there is no need to hurry. For the moment Hiddink has a contract with us. He is obliged to fulfil it. And in the half year that remains before this agreement comes to an end we will decide what happens next."

The 55-year-old Fursenko replaces Vitaly Mutko, who resigned in November after four years in the position. Mutko resigned following the Russia president Dmitry Medvedev's order that all sports federations must be run by full-time professionals. Mutko was appointed sports minister in 2008, and is known to be close to Roman Abramovich.

Currently Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea, finances Hiddink's $8m (£5.2m) annual salary. Fursenko is a former executive with Russia's state gas giant, Gazprom. Some observers believe that Fursenko's widely predicted election may prompt Abramovich to reconsider his role as banker to the Russian national side.

Last week, Hiddink's agent, Cees van Nieuwenhuizen, dismissed reports that Hiddink was to quit his job in Russia because Fursenko was no longer prepared to tolerate his over-generous salary.

Nieuwenhuizen said he and Hiddink were waiting to talk to Fursenko so they could "hear his views first-hand".

Hiddink took over as Russia's coach in 2006. He guided the national side through a tricky qualifying group that included England and Croatia and took the team to the semi-finals in the 2008 European Championship. At the height of his success, Hiddink was more popular in Russia than Vladimir Putin.

But the success he previously enjoyed in World Cup finals with Holland, Australia and South Korea deserted him last year during Russia's World Cup qualifying campaign amid allegations repeated on Russian state television that several key Russian players partied and drank in the run-up to matches.

Fursenko will ultimately want to install his people in key positions and will also seek to replace Hiddink, who won the FA Cup during a short spell with Chelsea last season, with his own choice of manager, observers believe.

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