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Kadyrov Axes Football Superstar Gullit After Chechen Team Loses


Dutch soccer legend Ruud Gullit (right) was presented with a Terek Grozny shirt by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov in Grozny after he took the job in February.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has announced the dismissal of legendary former footballer Ruud Gullit as coach of his hapless Grozny team following a loss to a rival Russian Premier League team.

The leadership of Terek Grozny, a soccer team overseen by Kadyrov, had vowed the contest would determine the fate of its coach a mere five months after he was enlisted as part of a costly effort to boost the profile of Chechen football.

A message on the team website had said Gullit must skipper Terek Grozny to a win over Ankar Perm or he would lose his job.

The Perm team prevailed after a Terek Grozny own goal was scored in the 90th minute of the match.

Interfax news agency quoted Kadyrov as saying just minutes after the defeat that "Gullit will no longer train Terek."

"Unfortunately, he was unable to prove his mettle as a trainer," the pro-Moscow president, who keeps an iron grip on the republic, reportedly said. "Under his leadership, the team played exceptionally poorly this season."

Before the June 14 defeat, the team was 14th in a league of 16 teams, two spots below where it finished last year.

In its online accusation, the team said Gullit "has not justified the hopes of the club's leadership."

It went on to accuse the two-time World Player of the Year of being more interested in "bars and discotheques" than delivering on the goal of getting the team into European competition by 2012.

"Considering all this, Ramzan Kadyrov is presenting Ruud Gullit with the task of bringing back three points from Perm," the statement said. "In the event of the opposite outcome, Gullit will be dismissed from the position of head coach."

The team message took Gullit to task for disparaging remarks he was quoted as saying about the level of talent on Terek Grozny's roster and suggested that Gullit, who is Dutch, had shown little respect for Chechen "traditions."

Gullit was reportedly signed to an 18-month contract at the start of the current season.

compiled from RFE/RL and Reuters reports