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US and Russian Politicians Using Soccer As a Weapon In New Cold War Over Ukraine

russia letter to fifa US and Russian Politicians Using Soccer As a Weapon In New Cold War Over Ukraine

You know that soccer has made it in America when the politicians in the United States and Russia are using it as a weapon.

On Friday, Republican U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), and Dan Coats (R-Ind.) sent a letter to FIFA president Joseph Blatter asking that he strip Russia’s FIFA membership, ban the country from the 2014 World Cup, and move the 2018 World Cup out of the country.

The two senators stated the “military occupation of a sovereign Ukraine” as the main reason for the letter and made reference to FIFA’s denial to allow Yugoslavia to participate in the 1992 European Championship and the 1994 World Cup. Not only that but the senators also quoted Article 3 of the FIFA Statures, which is labeled “Non-discrimination and stance against racism”

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.’

In the letter to FIFA, the U.S. Senators stated: “Since Russia has similarly displayed a brazen disrespect for fundamental principles of FIFA and international law, [we] hope you will agree that it [Russia] doesn’t deserve the honor 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,” added the senators.

What makes matters even more interesting is that the Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko is a FIFA board member.

Today Russia fired back.

Alexander Sidyakin and Michael Markelov, two members of the Duma, addressed their concern to FIFA about the United States and asked that FIFA would “urgently convene an emergency session to consider suspending the United States FIFA membership and denying the USMNT the right to participate in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.”

The two politicians spoke about the “U.S.’s military aggression against several sovereign states” and named Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya and Syria among those suffering from U.S. aggression.

Yes, you read that right. Russia is telling FIFA that the United States is using military aggression in sovereign nations. This is not a joke.

They also included “numerous cases of human rights violation all over the world revealed by E. Snowden.”

One of the authors of the letter, Aleksandr Sidyakin, took his argument to Twitter to voice his frustrations: “It’s an eye for an eye, a ball for a ball. Don’t the let the USA take part in the 2014 World Cup! End their membership of FIFA.”

According to the Russian website Newsru, Sidyakin explained that the letter is a reaction to a petition by U.S. senators Mark Kirk and Dan Coates who appealed to FIFA to ban Russia from the World Cup in the light of the ongoing situation in Crimea.

However, Kirk and Coates are not alone in asking FIFA to punish Russia for their political standoff with Ukraine.

Last week, BBC journalist Chris Morris reported that an EU official had suggested that there would be a push for Russia to be barred from this summer’s World Cup in Brazil.

What do you think of the whole situation? Do you think the U.S. Senators have a point? Or do you think this is just a publicity stunt? What about Russia’s response, should that even be taken seriously given the fact it’s coming from Russia?


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About Pedro Heizer

Pedro Heizer began his sportswriting career covering the Miami Heat of the NBA. Soon after, he opened his horizons and began writing about soccer in the United States on his website 90 Minutes Strong. Pedro highly enjoys watching and covering Major League Soccer and the United States Men's and Women's National Teams.
View all posts by Pedro Heizer →