Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov announced Monday that he has lent his country’s football federation (RFU) 300 million rubles (4.9 million euros $5.6 million) to pay national team coach Fabio Capello’s salary.

Capello has an annual salary of seven million euros but was owed almost five million euros in back pay.

“As part of the organising committee for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, I decided to financially help the RFU to the tune of 300 million rubles,” said Usmanov in a statement quoted by Russian sports agency R-Sport.

“On the eve of the World Cup that will happen on our soil, the coach is of capital importance to the national team.”

The 61-year-old Uzbek-born oligarch built his wealth through metal and mining operations and investments and is currently ranked as the 71st richest person in the world by Forbes business magazine, and third in Russia with a net worth of $14.2 billion.

He had already spent 400 million rubles in February when Italian Capello, 69, had not been paid in seven months.

The former England, Real Madrid and AC Milan coach took over the Russian national team in July 2012 but in January 2014 signed a staggering new contract taking him up to the 2018 World Cup, reportedly making him the best-paid national team coach on the planet.

However, by November that same year, the RFU revealed they were no longer able to pay his salary, admitting they “simply don’t have enough money”.

Capello has come under fire recently due to poor results, including a 1-0 defeat at home to Austria last month that left them third in Euro 2016 qualifying group G and at risk of missing out on the finals next year in France.

A group of supporters have started a collection with the aim of raising the 21.4 million euros needed to pay off Capello should he be fired.

With just eight points from their six qualifying matches so far, Russia face a battle to make it to Euro 2016 as they trail second-placed Sweden by four points with only the top two going through automatically. 

Russia’s next qualifier is a potentially decisive fixture at home to Sweden on September 5 with a trip to Liechtenstein following just three days later. – Agence France-Presse

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