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Senators Want 2018 World Cup Taken Away From Putin

Menendez and of 12 his colleagues want the 2018 World Cup yanked from Russia. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A bipartisan coalition of 13 senators is asking soccer's governing body to give consideration to relocating the 2018 World Cup out of Russia, citing the the incursion into the territory of Ukraine.  

Led by Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., the group asks FIFA to deny Russian President Vladimir Putin the honor of hosting the soccer tournament.  

"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," the senators wrote.  

Joining Menendez and Johnson on the letter are Republicans David Perdue of Georgia, John Cornyn of Texas, John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Jim Risch of Idaho, Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, Marco Rubio of Florida and Mark S. Kirk of Illinois. Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Claire McCaskill of Missouri also signed on.  

The full text of the letter to FIFA President Sepp Blatter:

Dear Mr. Blatter: 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. 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. 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.
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