The Russian Football Union (RFU) announced Tuesday it had dismissed the Italian Fabio Capello as the head coach of the country’s national team. 

“The Russian Football Union and the head coach of the national team, Fabio Capello, have mutually agreed to terminate his employment contract,” the union said in a statement.

“The RFU sincerely thanks Capello for his work as the country’s national team head coach and wishes him success in his future professional activity.”

The 69-year-old former England manager Capello — reputed to be the highest-paid coach in international football — has come under increasing pressure following a dismal run of results and the team’s lacklustre performances in Russia’s Euro 2016 qualifying campaign. 

Russia have just two wins to their name from six matches in qualifying Group G — a 4-0 home victory over Liechtenstein last September before being awarded a 3-0 victory from the abandoned clash against Montenegro in Podgorica in March.

They have been held at home by minnows Moldova and suffered two defeats to group leaders Austria. 

Russia are third in the group with four matches to go, meaning their place at Euro 2016 in France this time next year is far from secure as only the best third-placed side from the nine groups will qualify along with the top two sides from each section, and the rest going into play-offs.

Russia’s next qualifier is a potentially decisive fixture at home to second-placed Sweden in September.

After last month’s 1-0 defeat at the hands of Austria in Moscow, a group of Russian football fans started a fund-raising campaign aimed at collecting the sum of 21.4 million euros ($23.6m, £15.3m) needed to buy Capello out of his contract, which was due to run until the 2018 World Cup. 

A recent opinion poll showed that 53 percent of football fans in the country wanted Capello to step down.

Capello took over the Russian team in 2012 and took them to the 2014 World Cup before being given a lucrative new contract to stay in the job through to the end of the 2018 World Cup, which Russia will host.

But after Russia were knocked out at the group stage of the World Cup in Brazil without winning a game, Capello was widely criticised, and only the backing of the country’s Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko prevented him from losing his job. – Agence France-Presse

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