Members of Congress ask FIFA to suspend Russia's membership
Two U.S. senators -- Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) and Sen. Dan Coats (R., Ind.) -- wrote to FIFA president Sepp Blatter on Friday to request that the organization suspend Russia's membership due to the country's invasion of Crimea, according to the Wall Street Journal. The senators also requested that Russia not be allowed to compete in this summer's World Cup in Brazil and that Russia not be able to host the 2018 World Cup.
The call to take away Russia's membership in FIFA and ban the country from the World Cup has precedent. According to the WSJ report:
Citing FIFA statutes that bar discrimination against any country based on politics or ethnic origin, the two lawmakers asked FIFA President Joseph “Sepp” Blatter to also strip Russia’s right to host the 2018 World Cup. They cited FIFA’s decision to prevent then-Yugoslavia from participating in the 1992 European Championship and 1994 World Cup as a precedent.
“Since Russia has similarly displayed a brazen disrespect for fundamental principles of FIFA and international law, I hope you will agree that it doesn’t deserve the honor of either hosting the World Cup or participating in one,” the senators wrote.
The full letter can be found here.
Russia is scheduled to compete in Group H against Belgium, Algeria and South Korea this summer at the World Cup. The WSJ notes that if both Russia and the United States (playing in Group G) advance out of their respective groups to the knockout stage, the two teams could meet in the Round of 16. In that round, the winner of Group G will meet the runner-up of Group H, and the winner of Group H will meet the runner-up of Group G.
The senators' letter to Blatter is the latest Congressional initiative to punish Russia over the situation in Crimea, which is Ukrainian territory. Members of Congress have pushed hard for sanctions against Russia, and President Obama took action on Thursday through new visa restrictions and an executive order allowing for increased sanctions. The House of Representatives also passed a bill Thursday to aid Ukraine financially through a $1 billion loan package.
Russia is scheduled to start World Cup play on June 17 against South Korea. SI.com: Planet Futbol Roundtable: 2014 MLS season predictions