The Russian Football Union will elect a new president on February 3, the organization's executive committee announced on Tuesday after accepting Vitaly Mutko's resignation.
"In connection with the early termination of V.L. Mutko's term as president, the RFU has announced the convening of an extraordinary meeting on February 3, with the issue of choosing an RFU president included on the agenda," it said in a statement.
The change had been expected since President Dmitry Medvedev said on October 23 that the union should not be headed by a political figure. Vitaly Mutko has served as sport, tourism and youth minister in the government since May 2008.
According to the Sport Express newspaper, former Zenit St. Petersburg president Sergei Fursenko is the front runner, while CSKA Moscow owner Yevgeny Giner ruled himself out on Tuesday.
"I will not become the RFU president. Firstly, because I do not want to confirm rumors about the sale of the club. And, secondly, a man who has something to do with a club, any of our clubs, it's his baby, and so his move to a higher position would lead to confrontation, a conflict of interest. I do not want to do this," Giner said in an interview on the Mayak radio station.
The businessman is reportedly looking to sell the former Red Army side, with Mikhail Prokhorov mentioned as a potential buyer. The billionaire recently agreed to buy into the NBA's New Jersey Nets basketball team.
The February 3 election date could complicate Russia's preparation for the qualifying phase of the 2012 European Championships.
The Euro 2012 qualifying draw will take place in Warsaw on February 7, with Russia in the first pot of seeds despite failing to reach next year's World Cup in South Africa.
The team lost a two-legged playoff against Slovenia on away goals, casting doubt over Guus Hiddink's role as coach. The Dutchman's contract expires after the 2010 World Cup, but the fixtures for the 2012 qualifiers will be decided after the draw, with scheduling often the subject of tough negotiations.
Should a coach be appointed by Mutko, he may lack support from the new president, while waiting until after the elections could leave the incoming trainer - if a change is made - with a fixture list that is not to his liking.
The 2012 European Championships will be co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine, although the latter's preparations have caused consternation in UEFA, with European football's governing body critical of the former Soviet state's progress.
MOSCOW, 24 November (RIA Novosti)