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FIFA could strip Russia of 2018 World Cup for illegal inclusion of Crimean clubs in Russian leagues

Then FIFA President Joseph Blatter and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin pose during handing over of the 2018 FIFA World Cup signed certificate to Russia. (Image: Alexei Nikolsky/AP/RIA Novosti)
FIFA could strip Russia of 2018 World Cup for illegal inclusion of Crimean clubs in Russian leagues

The West demonstrated in the case of Sochi that it wasn’t prepared to boycott the Olympiad despite what Vladimir Putin had done there, but FIFA, the international football federation, may strip Russia of the right to hold the 2018 World Cup because of Moscow’s violation of that organization’s rules with respect to Crimean clubs.

“According to Article 84 of the FIFA charter,” commentator Pavel Aptekar points out in today’s Vedomosti, “the clubs of one country can take part in the championship of another only with the agreement of the football federation of the other country and also that of UEFA an and FIFA.”

Moscow’s decision announced by the Russian Football Union to “include in the list of participants of the championship of Russia in the second division three teams from Crimea” thus puts the Russian Federation on a collision course with FIFA because “the Ukrainian Federation and the international associations have not given permission” for such a step.

Moreover, Aptekar notes, Anatoly Konkov, the president of the Ukrainian Football Federation, has announced that his group “will fight for the Crimean clubs” and “Americana nd European politicians have already publicly appealed to FIFA with a demand to take away from Russia the right to hold the world championship.

Russian sports experts say, the “Vedomosti” writer continues, that how FIFA will react will “depend on the level of political conflict between Russia and the West.” But FIFA has to take note of the situation in order to defend its own rules. “The exclusion of the [Russian] Federation from FIFA or [its] clubs from European competitions” would be “an extraordinary measure.”

Up to this point, Aptekar notes, FIFA has taken this step “only against South Africa and Yugoslavia.” But it could do the same with Russia because of its Crimean decision.

As a result, he concludes, “the foreign policy of Vladimir Putin in 2014 has become to contradict not only good sense, the standard of living of Russian citizens, and the well-being of oligarchs close to the Kremlin but even the economy of mega-projects [like the World Cup] on which the Russian leadership has bet all these last years.”

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