Since the shootdown of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, world leaders have called for tougher sanctions against Russia, which is suspected of supplying Ukraine pro-Russia separatist rebels with the the anti-aircraft missiles used to down the plane in eastern Ukraine with 298 people on board.
Now Britain’s second-highest ranking political leader says that Russia should not be permitted to host the 2018 World Cup, the global soccer championship tournament held every four years in a different country. Russia won the bidding process to host the 2018 World Cup, beating out England, the closest competitor.
As reported by The Inquisitr, soccer’s international governing body, FIFA, earlier rejected calls to pull the 2018 World Cup out of Russia, even after the Malaysia Airlines shootdown.
But the statements Sunday by U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who said that after the shootdown it was now “unthinkable” to allow the World Cup to proceed in Russia, will only add pressure on FIFA to rethink its stance on holding the tournament in the country led by strongman Vladimir Putin.
Clegg said that the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was the last straw in a series of offenses by Putin that started with Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine earlier this year.
“Vladimir Putin himself has to understand that he can’t have his cake and eat it,” Clegg told The Sunday Times of London. “He can’t constantly, you know, push the patience of the international community beyond breaking point, destabilize a neighboring country, protect these armed separatists in the east of Ukraine and still have the privilege and honor of receiving all the accolades in 2018 for being the host nation of the World Cup.”
Clegg said that holding the greatest event in the world’s most popular sport in Russia would be a stain on the game — and on countries whose teams participate.
“You can’t have the beautiful game marred by the ugly aggression of Russia on the Russian Ukrainian border,” Clegg said. “Not only would Vladimir Putin exploit it, I think it would make the rest of the world look so weak and so insincere about our protestations about Vladimir Putin’s behavior if we’re not prepared to pull the plug.”
The Malaysia Airlines shootdown came just four days after the final of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, won by Germany.
Last week, several top German politicians also called for stripping Russia of the 2018 World Cup, over the Malaysia Airlines shootdown.
“If Putin doesn’t actively cooperate on clearing up the plane crash, the soccer World Cup in Russia in 2018 is unimaginable,” said one, Hesse state interior minister Peter Beuth.
While the German football governing body, the DFB, did not comment on the calls to move the 2018 World Cup out of Russia, in England, former Football Association Chair Lord Triesman called it “beyond belief” that Russian would now be allowed to host the 2018 World Cup.
“I don’t know how many people have got to be shot out of the skies before people say enough is enough,” he said, referencing the Malaysia Airlines shootdown.