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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 8, 2006

Shakhtar Donetsk president attacks 'incapable' referee

KIEV, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Shakhtar Donetsk's president has waded into a row surrounding the team's Romanian coach Mircea Lucescu, backing his criticism of refereeing at a key match and calling for major changes in the structure of Ukrainian soccer.

Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine's wealthiest business magnate, expressed confidence in Lucescu and dismissed speculation that he was about to be replaced.

Akhmetov told TRK Ukraina television on Tuesday that Lucescu was right to complain about the officiating in Shakhtar's 1-0 defeat by arch-rivals Dynamo Kiev on Monday.

The result put unbeaten Dynamo six points clear of Shakhtar at the top of the table.

But the match saw Portuguese referee Paulo Gomes issue four red cards, one to Lucescu who was ordered from the bench.

'I do not believe the referee was capable. He provoked too much emotion on the pitch,' Akhmetov said.

He offered no direct comment on Lucescu's allegations his team were victims of a conspiracy by Ukraine's soccer authorities.

But Akhmetov said there was a conflict of interest with Hrihory Surkis acting as Ukrainian Soccer Federation boss and his brother Ihor as Dynamo Kiev president.

'There is a problem within the system of Ukrainian soccer, where a club president and federation president amount to one and the same person,' Akhmetov, a member of parliament with interests in metals, telecoms and energy, told TRK Ukraina.

'This does not happen in any other country. It is a conflict of interest. We have to fight against this. This is what Lucescu was talking about. And I have also repeatedly spoken about it.'

Akhmetov dismissed any notion that talks were proceeding to find a replacement for Lucescu.

News reports have suggested Shakhtar are holding talks with German coach Christoph Daum and Dynamo Kiev are negotiating a contract with former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson.

'I get the impression that the leadership of Dynamo is itching to see me fire Mircea Lucescu. Well, I am going to disappoint them,' said Akhmetov.

'Lucescu will remain in Donetsk until the end of his contract. And that means another three years.'