Euro 2012

Russia needs overhaul after Euro exit - minister

Russia's group stage exit from Euro 2012 was "unsatisfactory" and showed domestic football needs major change ahead of its hosting of the 2018 World Cup, the country's sports minister said on Saturday.

Russia failed to make the quarter finals of the competition after losing to Greece last weekend and Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko made clear that the performance would not go without consequences.

"The potential of the team is much greater than this result," Mutko told state television in an interview. "It is an unsatisfactory result. As a minimum we should have got into the knock-out stage."

Looking as the causes for the fiasco, he said: "The team was physically not prepared. They were tired. There needs to be renewal."

Mutko was critical of the Sbornaya's physical training under Dutch coach Dick Advocaat but also noted that the timetable of the Russian domestic season had left them playing several intense club games in a frantic May.

Advocaat -- who took over from fellow Dutchman Guus Hiddink as coach in 2010 -- had already announced before the Euro he was leaving his post, leaving Russia yet again looking for a new coach.

The medium-term future is of critical importance for the sports authorities, as Russia seeks to host the 2018 World Cup with a national team that will satisfy a hugely demanding public.

Pressure is growing to name a Russian coach for the side but Mutko lamented that there were currently no more than half a dozen Russians working as top trainers anywhere.

"Most of the head coaches at our leading clubs are foreigners... Let's not deceive ourselves.

"There needs to be a serious rebirth of the Russian school of trainers which crumbled 20 years ago" when the Soviet Union collapsed, said Mutko.

Even the team's actions after their defeat caused controversy, with the side failing to acknowledge the fans and star player Andrei Arshavin caught saying it was the supporters' problem if Russia had failed to live up to expectations.

"The players needed to thank their fans... The fact that our national team hid does them no honour," Mutko said, adding however that he was against a "hounding" of the Sbornaya.

He admitted: "There is tension between the fans and the team and this needs to be removed. Footballers need to play for the fans and understand that all their income comes in the end from the fans."

Russia's disappointing Euro 2012 on the pitch was exacerbated off it after the country's football federation was fined three times and threatened with a points deduction from the country's next European championship qualifying campaign.

That followed crowd trouble at all three of its group stage matches, with fans setting off and firing fireworks as well as displaying potentially offensive banners and flags.

For that, UEFA fined them a total of 185,000 euros ($230,000, 150,000 pounds) but threatened a six-point deduction for Euro 2016 in France after four volunteer stewards were attacked and needed hospital treatment after their first match.

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