Fursenko: Youth game is the priority
© FIFA.com

The sun was beating down from the Zurich sky when FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter welcomed newly-elected Russian FA President Sergey Fursenko to Home of FIFA on Tuesday morning. After just a few weeks in office, Fursenko expressed pleasure at the invitation to a first meeting with the FIFA President and General Secretary Jerome Valcke: "I’m visiting FIFA for the first time, and it’s very exciting,“ Fursenko told FIFA.com. "We spoke about the future development of football in our country, and about our bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup."

Fursenko succeeded Vitali Mutko as head of the association just a few weeks ago. The 55-year-old was previously president of FC Zenit St Petersburg, UEFA Cup winners back in May 2008. The competition has been relaunched this season as the UEFA Europa League. Fursenko has big plans for his new role at the top of the Russian FA: "We have lots of ideas. Our top priority is to boost the development of youth football," explained Fursenko. "But an association as big as the Russian FA will always have a huge number of projects, and we need to make progress in every area, from the junior levels right up to the senior national team."

The senior men’s team seemed set for great things a few years ago, but their progress has stalled recently. Following a string of outstanding displays and a run to the UEFA EURO 2008 semi-finals, Russia’s failure to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ in November last year was a painful setback. The Russians came agonisingly close to a berth at the global showcase event, but fell to Slovenia in the play-offs. "That’s football," reflected Fursenko, "but it’s also the cue for a new future, and the future looks very promising indeed for our current team. We’ll soon see some good results. In fact, I think we can win the World Cup in 2018," the new President concluded confidently.