MOSCOW, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 4th August, 2016) - The 2018 World Cup hosts Russia, who crashed out of Euro 2016 without a win, will make sweeping changes to their national team, the country's football union said Friday. "We don't have a coach, we don't have a team," Vitaly Mutko, Russia's sports minister and football union president, told Interfax. "We are starting from scratch." Mutko warned that there had been players who had behaved "unprofessionally and incorrectly" and failed to deliver at the Euros, Interfax reported.
"The team will be formed on another basis, one of the priorities being the desire to play for the team," Mutko said, adding that the squad will be formed before a friendly against Turkey on August 31. The Russian squad came under fire over its dismal performance at Euro 2016 that saw manager Leonid Slutsky step down. Russian players have also been embroiled in scandals off the pitch. Midfielder Pavel Mamayev and forward Alexander Kokorin were punished by their clubs last month after a video of them at a champagne-fuelled party in Monaco following Russia's exit from the Euro emerged online, sparking outrage.
A group of disgruntled Russian fans in June began an online petition on Change.org to dissolve the team and reform the country's football development programme. As of Friday, the petition had garnered nearly 950,000 signatures. Mutko met with the petition's author on Friday and said that its signatories could "help develop football" in the country. The football union last month named four candidates for the vacant head coach position, including Rostov manager Kurban Berdyev and Zenit St Petersburg assistant coach Sergei Semak. Mutko said earlier this week that a new head coach would likely be appointed in the first half of August.