Russia coach Capello resigns from national team

Fabio Capello. (Ivan Sekretarev/AP)

MOSCOW — Fabio Capello left his post as Russia coach on Tuesday after a poor run of results put the 2018 World Cup hosts in danger of failing to qualify for next year’s European Championship.

The Russian Football Union’s acting president, Nikita Simonyan, said the organization had reached "a mutual agreement" with Capello to terminate his contract in return for an unspecified amount of compensation.

Capello leaves after three years in charge of Russia’s national team. He had planned to coach Russia at the World Cup in 2018, but came under pressure when his team failed to get out of the group stage at last year’s tournament in Brazil. He also faced criticism from Russian politicians over the size of his salary, a reported 7 million euros ($7.7 million) a year.

He has won only two of his last 10 competitive matches, including a 1-0 loss to Austria last month that left the team in danger of failing to reach Euro 2016. Russia is third in its qualifying group, outside the automatic qualification places.

"The coach answers for the result. That’s completely fair," Simonyan said. "The results and the team’s play obviously didn’t satisfy either society or the leadership of the Russian Football Union. I think the head coach was somewhat in agreement with that."

The 69-year-old Italian, who has also coached England, AC Milan and Real Madrid, has previously said he expected Russia to be his final job in soccer.

The Russian Football Union’s deep debts had sparked speculation that it could not afford to fire Capello given the size of the compensation involved, reportedly more than 21 million euros ($24 million).

Capello frequently went unpaid while coaching Russia, including a spell of almost eight months until February, when the back pay was cleared by a loan to the RFU from billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who also reportedly cleared another pay stoppage in June.

Simonyan said the next coach would be Russian and expected a decision within the next month. CSKA Moscow coach Leonid Slutsky, former Rubin Kazan coach Kurban Berdyev and former Russia coach Yuri Syomin are all candidates, he said.

"There will be a domestic coach and we won’t delay," Simonyan said.

Simonyan also said the RFU’s executive board had voted to restrict the number of foreign players allowed on Russian league teams. Last season, clubs were allowed a maximum of seven foreigners on the field at a time, and that has now been cut to six.

The measure requires the approval of the sports ministry under a law signed earlier this month by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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