MOSCOW, September 3 (RIA Novosti)
The Russian FA elected its vice head and the executive director of the Russian Olympic Committee Nikolai Tolstykh to the presidency on Monday, beating a candidate backed by the Premier League's 16 clubs.
Tolstykh garnered 148 votes, 24 more than his rival and Russian Premier League chief Sergei Pryadkin in a second-round runoff after neither gained the two-thirds majority needed for an outright win.
"I would like to thank everyone for the trust shown in me to head the Russian Football Union - and it is a union - of people who love football and are faithful to it," Tolstykh said in his acceptance speech.
"It's a huge responsibility, and I'll do everything that depends on me ... to help Russian football develop successfully."
The vote is seen as a victory for the Russian Sports Ministry, whose chief Vitaly Mutko, an ardent advocate of an FA shakeup, publically supported Tolstykh in the run-up to the election.
As if they saw it coming, several officials who would likely have supported his opponent Pryadkin stepped down from the FA's executive committee last week.
Tolstykh played football as a midfielder for Dynamo Moscow in the 1970s and early 80s before injury ended his career and he moved upstairs as a director. He held various posts there until 2001.
He has been executive director at Russia's Olympic Committee since 2011, and is known to support greater governmental involvement in football.
Pryadkin, meanwhile, is viewed in some quarters as a controversial figure, and last year was forced to fend off corruption allegations. He was said to have had the support of the Russian Premier League clubs, making him a powerful challenger.
But some feared Pryadkin might put the interests of the clubs ahead of those of the national team, dispensing with the limit on foreign players that guarantees Russians playing time in the top division but, others argue, harming the league's competitiveness worldwide.
Right-wing politician Igor Lebedev came a distant third with a mere nine votes.
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