15:35 Jun. 21, 2016
Embattled Russian sports minister criticizes soccer team's performance
An abysmal end to the Russian soccer team's performance at the Euro 2016 championship has led team coach Leonid Slutsky to say he should be replaced before the 2018 World Cup, which Russia is hosting.
"I failed to fulfill my duties," he said after Russia was defeated 3-0 by Wales on June 20, putting Russia in last place in its group and ending its participation in the games. "I believe that someone else should be training us for the more important tournament."
Slutsky had been told by Russian soccer authorities that he would have to choose between the national team and his club CSKA Moscow at the end of Euro 2016.
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After Slutsky offered to resign, however, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said no decision has been made on replacing him. "Slutsky's reaction is understandable," Mutko said. "But we won't decide right now what's next and so let all of us calm down for the time being."
Mutko apologized to Russian fans for the team's poor performance at the championship and said, "I'm ready to take all the blame for this" because the team was not adequately trained before the games.