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FIFA Tells Senator It Won’t Ban Russia From World Cup

Russia VS Slovenija

Photo: Kate Locteva (Flickr)

Russia's national team competes against Slovenia.

The international governing organization for soccer will not ban Russia from this year’s Wold Cup, even after Senators Dan Coats, R-Indiana, and Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, requested the move earlier this year in response to the country’s involvement in Ukraine.

Sen. Coats sent a letter to FIFA last month asking it ban Russia from the Brazil games this year and not allow Russia to host the World Cup in 2018.

The Guardian reported at the time that the request was made in the same week the U.S. and the European Union imposed sanctions on Russia for occupying Ukrainian military bases.

In their letter to the Fifa chairman, Sepp Blatter, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Dan Coates of Indiana, both Republicans, cite the exclusion of Yugoslavia from the 1992 European Championship and 1994 World Cup and say: “Since Russia has similarly displayed a brazen disrespect for fundamental principles of Fifa and international law, [we] hope you will agree that it doesn’t deserve the honour of either hosting the World Cup or participating in one.

“We ask that a more deserving World Cup 2018 bid should be re-considered instead.”

The Russian sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, a former president of the Russian football federation and chair of the local organising committee for the 2018 World Cup, is a Fifa board member.

The letter also cites Fifa statutes calling for suspension if a country or people are discriminated against: “According to Article 3 of the Fifa statutes: ‘discrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people on account of ethnic origin, gender, language, religion, politics or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.’”

But in a letter the senators received today, FIFA’s Secretary General Jerome Valcke told Coats and Kirk that its rules of non-discrimination only apply to the teams and not necessarily to the countries themselves.

“FIFA is committed to promoting friendly relations through football and it is FIFA’s aimt that the host coutnries of our flagship even ensure fundamental principles contained in FIFA’s Statues as well as in international law are promoted and complied with by all parties coming under the remit of FIFA’s regulatory framework,” the letter reads.

As The Hill reports, Coats is asking FIFA to reconsider.

“FIFA suggests that outrageous misbehavior by member states does not matter because such decisions are irrelevant to soccer,” Coats said in a statement. “This argument is not supported by facts.”

Coats noted that Yugoslavia was banned from the games in 1992 due to its role in the Balkan wars.

“I continue to call upon FIFA leadership to impose the same punishment on Russia,” he said.

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