The PJ Tatler

Senators to FIFA President: Strip Russia of 2018 World Cup Hosting Privilege

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) was one of the U.S. lawmakers recently placed on a new sanctions list by Russia for his support of a free and democratic Ukraine, and now he’s returning the favor.

Menendez and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) today led a bipartisan letter to FIFA president Sepp Blatter asking that Russia be stripped of its 2018 World Cup hosting duties.

Signing on to the letter were Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).

“Given Russia’s ongoing violations of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, we respectfully request that you convene an Extraordinary Congress of FIFA to consider stripping Russia of the privilege of hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup,” the senators wrote. “Allowing Russia to host the FIFA World Cup inappropriately bolsters the prestige of the Putin regime at a time when it should be condemned and provides economic relief at a time when much of the international community is imposing economic sanctions.”

“As you know, nearly a full year has passed since unmarked Russian troops and Russian-backed separatists began their dismemberment of Ukraine. Since then, more than 40 countries, all FIFA members, have implemented sanctions on Russia in an effort to end the conflict. It is unacceptable that while nearly half of the 2014 World Cup participants have joined the international sanctions regime to counter Russian aggression, FIFA would not even consider allowing its members to vote on moving the 2018 competition to a country that respects the shared principles of FIFA and international law.”

The senators added that “with the goal of ending the crisis in Ukraine and ensuring a successful 2018 World Cup, we strongly encourage FIFA to deny the Putin regime the privilege of hosting the 2018 World Cup and make preparations for an alternate host country.”

Last month, senators expressed their pride at being sanctioned by Moscow.

“While the United States sanctioned Russians who violated Ukrainian sovereignty and committed human rights violations, Russia’s punitive response is arbitrary,” Menendez said. “My advocacy for Ukraine’s freedom will never waver and if that means appearing on this list next year for a third time, that is a price well worth paying.”

“While I suppose this means I’ll spend this Easter in Sedona rather than Siberia, I couldn’t be more proud of being sanctioned by Vladimir Putin for standing up for freedom and human rights for the Russian people and against Putin’s deadly aggression in Ukraine,” McCain quipped. “I will never stop my efforts to support democracy, free speech, and the rule of law in Russia.”