GENEVA (AP) — Russia is giving up its place on the FIFA Council and proposing its soccer federation president as a new candidate to join the UEFA executive committee, the European soccer body said Thursday.
The FIFA seat is being vacated by Alexey Sorokin, who joined the council four years ago while he was CEO of the Russian organizing committee for the 2018 World Cup. Since the tournament, he joined the board of Russia’s state economic development corporation, VEB.
Sorokin had taken over the FIFA seat left open when a vetting panel blocked then-Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko from retaining his seat because of a conflict of interest.
Sorokin and another of the eight European delegates on FIFA’s 37-member council, Fernando Gomes of Portugal, are not standing for re-election by UEFA member federations on April 20.
Gomes’ exit was unexpected and comes as Portugal and Spain prepare a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup. UEFA aims to unite around one candidate for the vote in 2024. Opponents could include China.
The new FIFA Council candidates are Peter Peters, the vice president of the German soccer federation, and Romanian federation president Razvan Burleanu. They are unopposed to get four-year mandates for the seats, which come with a $250,000 annual stipend from FIFA.
Russian soccer federation president Alexander Dyukov is among nine candidates for eight seats on the UEFA executive committee.
Dyukov is a long-time executive of Russian oil company Gazprom, which is a top-tier sponsor of the Champions League.
Like Mutko, Dyukov is also a former president of Russian champion Zenit St. Petersburg, whose stadium is due to host games at this year’s European Championship and the 2022 Champions League final.
Poland soccer great Zbigniew Boniek is among five UEFA executive committee members standing to retain their seats for four more years. Three seats are vacant.
The four first-time candidates are all federation presidents: Dyukov, Mehdi Bayat of Belgium, Gabriele Gravina of Italy and television industry executive Just Spee of the Netherlands.
There will be a contested election for the FIFA Council seat reserved for a European woman, held by Evelina Christillin of Italy.
Christillin, who has close ties to the family of Juventus president and UEFA executive committee member Andrea Agnelli, has been challenged by Laura McAllister, former captain of the Wales national team.
The FIFA vice presidency reserved for British members is being contested by David Martin of Northern Ireland, Michael Mulraney of Scotland and Kieran O’Connor of Wales.
The winner will serve until 2023 and complete the term vacated by Greg Clarke, who resigned as English federation president in November after making offensive comments on race, gender and sexuality at a parliamentary hearing.
The UEFA election meeting is scheduled to be held in person in Montreux, Switzerland.
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