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Fabio ‘I like the challenge’ Cappelo says global politics should stay out of sports

Published time: May 14, 2014 17:58
Russia's coach Fabio Capello (Reuters/Francois Lenoir)

Russia's coach Fabio Capello (Reuters/Francois Lenoir)

With less than one month to go before the World Cup, RT's SophieCo catches up with Russia’s football coach, Fabio Capello, to learn about the state of his team’s readiness for the event and what he thinks when politicians try to meddle in sports.

“I think that sport is out of these political problems. I don’t like political people putting nose into sport,” the renowned football coach said.

In March, football’s governing body, FIFA, refused demands by US Senators Dan Coats and Mark Kirk, to bar Russia from this year’s World Cup in Brazil and take away its status as host nation in 2018.

“Probably, the senators want to do something to go into the first page of the newspaper,”
the coach suggested.

“I like the challenge,” Capello said, explaining why he opted for Russia after coaching clubs such as AC Milan, Juventus, and Real Madrid, as well as the English national team.

“To be the coach of Russia is completely new. New language. New country. New style of life. That’s the reason I chose Russia,”
he explained.

Under the Italian coach, the Russians have progressed to their first World Cup since 2002 after beating one of Europe’s top footballing nations, Portugal, for the top spot in Group F in the qualifying.

“All the people told me: ‘You are crazy’ because it’s a difficult group for the qualification. I said: ‘I need to try,'” the Italian stressed.

After Russia’s poor display at Euro 2012 under previous coach Dick Advocaat, “the key to go forward” was to succeed in creating “a new mentality; the winner mentality; group mentality” in the team, Capello said.

“The fans were very angry against the players after the Euro in Poland and Ukraine. It was a really important step for me to cancel it – what happened before. We needed to look forward. We needed to do something new. And we did this,” he added.

The greatest difficulty for the 67-year-old during his first two years with Russia was the lack of knowledge of the Russian language and the need to rely on a translator.

“It’s difficult to transmit something different; the passion,” he said. “Some moment you need to use the best words to change something or to create a new spirit...I am not sure always that the translator will say exactly the same thing, which I told him.”

Russia's soccer team manager Fabio Capello (L) gives instructions to his players during a training session at Luz Stadium in Lisbon June 6, 2013. (Reuters/Hugo Correia)

The Euro is “nothing” if you compare it to the World Cup in terms of pressure, but Team Russia is geared up for the big event, which kicks off in Brazil on June 12, Capello stressed.

“We’re ready. We worked a lot. We’re really strong. We checked it. Everything about the training camp, the games – we think we are ready,” the coach said.

With World Cup 2014 just around the corner, the coach is also keeping in mind the 2018 event, which will take place on Russian soil.

The country needs to grow more football talent in order to succeed at the home event in four years’ time.

“You’ve got 140 million people. And I’ve got only 64 players to choose [from]. This is incredible,” he said.

Tune in on Friday to watch RT’s Sophie Shevarnadze interview Fabio Capello on SophieCo.

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