Despite some suggestions to do otherwise, FIFA has ruled out stripping Russia of its 2018 World Cup. The recent Malaysia Airlines downing of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine — which many blame on pro-Russian separatists in control of the area — has raised questions as to whether or not nations should gather in Russia in 2018 for the biggest football tournament in the world.
Considering President Vladimir Putin’s actions leading up to the disaster — which killed 298 people on board — and the continued deterioration of the situation in Ukraine, some have suggested that Russia should be punished by taking the 2018 World Cup away. FIFA dismissed the notion in a statement released on Friday.
The international body, which awards the World Cup to the best bidder, said the tournament “can achieve positive change” despite the alleged Russian involvement in the MH17 air tragedy. In light of the disturbing events, some lawmakers in Germany and others have called for FIFA to review their decision to award Russia the rights to host the tournament. However, the football body is not deterred:
“History has shown so far that boycotting sport events or a policy of isolation or confrontation are not the most effective ways to solve problems… (The World Cup) can be a powerful catalyst for constructive dialogue between people and governments.”
Putin attended a hand-over meeting in Brazil on July 13 and watched the final between Argentina and Germany. Days after the end of the 2014 World Cup, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down by pro-Russian separatists over the disputed area in Ukraine.
FIFA — which includes Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko on its executive committee — said that the World Cup can be a “force for good” in a troubled world and they still believe “this will be the case for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia,” the statement added.
When Russia annexed Crimea earlier this year, FIFA boss Sepp Blatter, refused to strip the 2018 World Cup from the country saying:
“The World Cup has been given and voted to Russia and we are going forward with our work.”
Even though, nations can still band together and choose to boycott the 2018 World Cup if Russia continues inflaming the region, FIFA will go on with its plans. Referring to the United States led boycott of the 1980 Olympic Games, Mutko said the decision had been a mistake:
“So there’s no sense in reacting to politicians trying to make names for themselves. We’re preparing in a calm way, building facilities, getting ready for the World Cup.”
The only time the World Cup has not been played was in 1942 and 1946, due to World War II. So far calls to strip Putin of another international tournament are falling on deaf ears.
Do you think FIFA should consider moving the 2018 World Cup out of Russia because of international events?