Gullit arrives in Chechnya to coach Terek Grozny

BY foxsports • February 9, 2011

Ruud Gullit arrived in Chechnya on Wednesday to take over as coach of Russian league club Terek Grozny.

The former Netherlands star was greeted by several hundred fans at the airport in Grozny before a planned meeting with Kremlin-backed Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who is also president of Terek Grozny.

''Does it seem awful to me? No,'' Gullit said when asked about the Chechen capital, according to translated remarks. ''I've been in more awful, dangerous and impoverished regions. I've been to Darfur and saw how people live there.''

Terek finished 12th this season in the Russian Premier League. Kadyrov has given Gullit a target of a top-eight finish next season.

The former Netherlands midfielder, the 1987 European player of the year with AC Milan, has coached Chelsea, Newcastle, Feyenoord and the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Gullit declined to say how much he would be paid, adding that he doesn't care about money and aspires to help Terek Grozny succeed.

Gullit said he and the team would live and train outside Chechnya, in the spa resort of Kislovodsk in Russia's Stavropol region, about 250 kilometers (150 miles) west of Grozny.

Kadyrov said the team will eventually move to Grozny. He and Gullit also toured a football stadium under construction in Grozny.

Kadyrov also said that the situation in the city was calm and insisted that Chechnya was ''the safest place'' on Earth. Regional police, however, said three explosions hit different areas of Grozny late Tuesday, injuring three police officers and two civilians.

Chechen rebels have fought two wars against Russian forces since 1994. Major battles in the second war ended about a decade ago, but insurgents have continued to stage explosions and conduct hit-and-run raids.

Gullit has been criticized at home for his decision to coach Terek Grozny. Rights activists have accused Kadyrov of directing widespread human rights violations, including abductions, torture and killings of suspected rebels and sympathizers.

Gullit has rejected the criticism and insisted that his presence could have a positive influence on the region.

''You will always have people for and against. But I don't want to be involved in politics,'' Gullit said in an interview published last month in Dutch daily De Volkskrant. ''I want to concentrate on the sport and give the people there a little pleasure in their lives again.''


Vladimir Isachenkov and Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report.

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