Vitaly Mutko steps down as head of World Cup organizing committee

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The Russian deputy Prime Minister was given a lifetime ban by the International Olympic Committee for his role in the state-run doping scandal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Vitaly Mutko, a deputy prime minister in Russian Federation and a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, announced Wednesday that he is stepping down as head of the 2018 World Cup organizing committee.

The IOC said this month it was banning Russian Federation from the 2018 Pyeongchang winter Olympics after finding evidence of "unprecedented systematic manipulation" of doping procedures.

Mutko told Russian news agencies on Wednesday that he would be replaced by Alexei Sorokin, another high-profile Russian involved in organising next summer's World Cup.

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Russian Federation is hosting next year's football World Cup in 11 cities including Moscow, St Petersburg and Sochi.

Mutko's announcement comes two days after he said he would temporarily step down as president of the Russian Football Association in an apparent move to deflect global criticism as Russia prepares to host the World Cup next year.

"Speaking about doping, obviously, all players on all teams will be tested in competition and out of competition and we are sure that everyone is well aware of this situation", Federation Internationale de Football Association president Gianni Infantino said last month.

In a statement, FIFA, world soccer's governing body, thanked Mutko for his "invaluable contribution to the preparations for the competition" and said FIFA would continue working with the local organizing committee. Federation Internationale de Football Association rules forbid its officers from holding political office.

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