THE HAGUE/MOSCOW, February 27 (RIA Novosti) - A court in the Netherlands Tuesday imposed a six-month suspended sentence on Guus Hiddink, the Dutch coach of the Russian national soccer team, and ordered him to pay a 45,000-euro fine for tax evasion.
Hiddink, 60, who signed a two-year contract with Russia worth 4 million euros last year, has been embroiled in a tax scandal in his home country, with Dutch prosecutors demanding a 10-month prison sentence for failing to pay Dutch taxes.
Dutch prosecutors have been insisting that in 2002-2003 Hiddink failed to pay the Dutch tax service 1.4 million euros in taxes by claiming that his permanent residence was in Achel, Belgium, although he lived at his girlfriend's house in the Netherlands.
The 45,000-euro fine is the maximum financial penalty the court could impose on the charges of incorrect or incomplete payment of taxes.
The court acquitted Hiddink of tax evasion charges for 2002, but agreed that the defendant resided in the Netherlands from January 1 until August 26, 2003.
In addition to the six month suspended sentence, the court also gave Hiddink two years probation, which means that if the coach commits a crime within the given period he will be sentenced to prison.
Vyacheslav Fetisov, the head of the Russian Federal Agency for Physical Culture and Sport, said he hoped that the verdict would not affect the work of the Dutch coach with the Russian team.
"I hope that he [Hiddink] will return to work as soon as possible," Fetisov said. "This sensational story should in no way affect the coach's mood or the team atmosphere."
The court in the Netherlands also imposed an eight-month suspended sentence and a 45,000-euro fine on Simon van den Boom, Hiddink's accountant and tax advisor, whom the prosecutors claimed to be behind Hiddink's tax avoidance scheme.
A lawyer for Hiddink said his defendant was pleased that he was acquitted of tax evasion charges for 2002 and would not be going to prison, but was disappointed with the 6-month sentence, although only suspended.
Hiddink was not present in the court during today's verdict and a court's spokesman said the coach did not give a reason for his absence.
President of the Russian Football Union (RFU) Vitaly Mutko said at the opening of the Tuesday session of the RFU executive committee in Moscow that Hiddink will appeal the court's decision.
"First of all, I would like to say that Hiddink plans to appeal the verdict," Mutko said. "His lawyers disagree [with the verdict]."
The RFU president added that the Dutch coach is expected to arrive in Russia on March 3.
"We want to offer him our support and make sure that Hiddink continues his work in his post," Mutko said expressing his regret over the court's verdict.
Russia's national team failed to qualify last year for the World Cup in Germany, and Russian fans are hopeful that Hiddink, who previously guided the South Korean and Australian teams to unprecedented successes, will take the team to the Euro-2008 finals.
Russia has had six matches since Hiddink took over last year and have won three, lost one and drawn two matches.