Alexey Smertin Joins Russia World Cup Bid

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Smertin and Ruud Gullit, a Holland-Belgium bid ambassador, at the FIFA World Cup Bidding Country Expo in Cape Town in December (All photos Getty Images)
(WFI) Alexey Smertin, the former captain of the Russian national team, is named as sports director of the Russia bid seeking to stage either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.

Smertin, who was capped 55 times for Russia, will be responsible for working on technical and sporting matters, including offering input on the match calendar, overall team accommodations. He was already a bid ambassador.

Bid CEO Alexey Sorokin said: “As a bid ambassador and member of our delegation who attended both Soccerex and the [2010] finals draw last year in South Africa, Alexey Smertin has shown himself to be a strong representative and advocate for Russian football.

"He will strengthen our bid with his unrivalled experience as former elite player turned administrator. We believe that this new position will expand the opportunities for him to apply his unique expertise to the bid.”

Smertin will be one of the faces of the Russia bid in the build-up to the FIFA decision on the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 tournaments in December.

He is the latest addition
Smertin in his Fulham playing days
to the bid team, which was strengthened recently by former FIFA director of communications, Markus Siegler, and new international adviser Viacheslav Koloskov.

Smertin had a distinguished career as a defender and midfield player with a number of clubs in Russia and abroad, including Lokomotiv Moscow, Girondins de Bordeaux, and spells at Chelsea and Fulham. He was named player of the year in Russia in 1999. Smertin won the Premier League and the League Cup with Chelsea in 2005.

“Playing for Russia in the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea and Japan was one of the highlights of my career," said Smertin, who also played for Russia at the 2004 European Championships in Portugal.

"The significance of this [World Cup] competition and what it means to football fans all over the world is simply overwhelming.

“I am very proud to have been asked to represent my country now on an altogether different playing field and very much look forward to the coming months with the bid committee. I will certainly strive for excellence in my efforts to bring the ultimate football event to my home country, Russia”, he added.

Outside football, Smertin has another career as politician and founder of social development projects. He is currently the deputy of the Altay region Legislative Assembly in Russia, and is also actively engaged in the development of children's sports in that region and in Barnaul, his native city. He has also founded a football sports school for children.


Written by Mark Bisson (mark@worldfootballinsider.com)
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