Mutko barred from FIFA Council
Russia World Cup head Vitaly Mutko has been barred from seeking re-election to FIFA's top decision-making body after failing an eligibility check.
FIFA's review committee has ruled that Mutko can no longer sit on the FIFA Council because of his role as a deputy prime minister of Russia, people familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the eligibility checks on Mutko, who confirmed the decision later Friday.
Mutko's exclusion from the election is due to a clampdown on government interference in soccer rather than a separate, ongoing FIFA ethics examination of a World Anti-Doping Agency report that implicates him in Russia's doping cover-ups.
Mutko, who is also president of Russia's soccer federation, said he will not mount an appeal against FIFA's decision to exclude him from the April 5 election.
"I wanted to get re-elected, but FIFA has changed its criteria," Mutko said in comments carried by the Tass news agency. "A new criterion has been introduced: political neutrality. They want the organisation to be politically neutral, so that officials and representatives of the government don't get elected, and that's their right."
Mutko will lose the position on FIFA's ruling body, which he has held since 2009, just as Russia prepares to host the Confederations Cup in three months as the warm-up event for the 2018 World Cup.