Moscow (AFP) – Jose Mourinho is coming to Russia for the World Cup to provide analysis for a Kremlin-funded news channel branded a “foreign agent” in the United States.
RT television announced the signing on Monday without disclosing the payment Mourinho will receive for appearing on a broadcaster that pushes Russia’s take on news to a foreign audience.
The international channel does not have the television rights to show World Cup matches but says it will provide “live text commentary” and reports.
The Manchester United boss appeared in a jaunty video accompanying the announcement in which he pretends to coach an RT crew about how to cover the World Cup.
“Guys, I know you are nervous. This is a huge tournament and a huge amount of pressure,” Mourinho said to the stunned-looking RT journalists in the whimsical clip.
“We will show the world a great game — the greatest game.”
Mourinho added in a statement that he was “very happy to join the team at RT” and share his insights into the five weeks of matches that kick off in Moscow on June 14.
The signing is set to give RT a ratings boost at a difficult time for the Kremlin-backed project that was launched in 2005 and originally called Russia Today.
RT has been dropped by a number of American TV providers after being wrapped up in the controversy surrounding the investigation into Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 US election.
It was forced to register as a “foreign agent” by the US Justice Department in November for being part of “Russia’s state-run propaganda machine” — a charge RT denies.
Russia forced nine smaller US media outlets to register as “foreign agents” in retaliation.
RT has several foreign language services besides English and is particularly active on YouTube.
It is also trying to expand further into Europe and in December launched a Paris-based French-language channel.
That decision came despite French President Emmanuel Macron labelling RT a spreader of “deceitful propaganda” in May 2017.
RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan welcomed Mourinho into the fold.
“We continue to put together the RT dream team. Now we have a coach,” she said.
The channel already has two former Premier League players as presenters: ex-Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel and former Liverpool striker Stan Collymore.
RT has a history of hiring high-profile but controversial presenters.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange conducted his own show from inside Ecuador’s London embassy in which he has been cooped up since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden on sexual assault claims.