Sergei Fursenko elected head of Russian Football Union

MOSCOW (AP) - Sergei Fursenko has been elected as new president of Russia's national football federation.

Fursenko, a former head of a division of Russia's natural gas monopoly Gazprom, overwhelmingly won a vote by the Russian Football Union at a Wednesday meeting. His only opponent was businessman Alisher Aminov.

The 55-year-old Fursenko replaces Vitaly Mutko, who resigned in November after four years in the position.

Mutko resigned following President Dmitry Medvedev's order that all sports federations must be run by full-time professionals. He was appointed sports minister in 2008.

Fursenko, a former president of the Zenit St. Petersburg football team, promised Russia will win the World Cup in 2018. "I'm absolutely sure that we will reach the victory," Fursenko told the meeting. "We will reach nothing if we don't put forward such goals."

He also advocated changes in the union's governing bodies and promised to make the development of football his main priority. Mutko's top achievement was appointing Dutch coach Guus Hiddink to lead the Russian national team.

Under Hiddink, Russia reached the semifinals at the 2008 European Championship - its best post-Soviet showing. But it recently failed to qualify for this year's World Cup.

Mutko has proposed Hiddink extend his contract, which expires in July. But Fursenko, who is expected to meet Hiddink on Thursday, said he will not be in a hurry to make a decision.

"We have almost half a year and must work (with Hiddink) till the end of his contract. And in that time we will decide what to do next," he said.

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