Russia has spent much of the year plastered all over the headlines for all the wrong reasons. After the glory that was the Sochi Winter Olympics, things once again went from bad to worse and the world’s eyes are on President Vladimir Putin to take more responsibility for the region’s ongoing instability. The recent downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 drove home the severity of the unrest and has called Russia’s commitment to peace into question.
As such, it’s unsurprising that there are those now insistent that the 2018 World Cup should not be held in Russia. Putin’s approval ratings at home may be through the roof, but the international community seems to think that to allow the next World Cup to take place in Russia sends entirely the wrong message.
“If Putin doesn’t actively cooperate on clearing up the plane crash, the soccer World Cup in Russia in 2018 is unimaginable,” wrote German minister Peter Beuth in a national newspaper.
And he’s not alone in his criticisms either, as Michael Fuchs of the Christian Democrats party also doesn’t see any sense in bringing the world’s biggest soccer tournament to Russia.
“FIFA football association should think about whether Moscow is an appropriate host if it can’t even guarantee safe airways,” he stated.
The FIFA World Cup is an event that so many countries the world over are fighting tooth and nail to secure for themselves. It’s an amazing opportunity for showcasing the best a country has to offer, silencing critics and generally brining a nation to the world’s attention for all the right reasons. And with the Sochi Winter Olympics already under its belt, Putin will not be looking to the World Cup of 2018 to once again bring Russia into international focus for positive reasons.
“Putin believes that a World Cup in Russia can be sold to his people as an endorsement of his rule,” said Tunku Vardarajan of the Daily Beast.
“Why should the world become an accomplice in a dictator’s Ponzi scheme of pride?”
“In all of this lies the chance, also, for FIFA to redeem itself. Under Sepp Blatter, its interminable head, the body has been opaque and corrupt,”
“Now is the moment for FIFA and Blatter to take a rare moral stand and not act as obstacles to the revocation of Russia’s hosting rights.”
In any case, it’s not looking in any way likely that FIFA will in fact give in to pressure and make any changes at all to its awarding of the next World Cup to Russia. Regardless of what goes on in the meantime, a country has never before lost the rights to the World Cup after winning them and this isn’t likely to change anytime soon.
Even the Dutch FA has insisted that given the tragedy affecting not only Russia and Ukraine but the rest of the world, now is not the time to be getting stuck into comparatively trivial matters.
“The Dutch football association is aware that a future World Cup in Russia stirs great emotion among all football lovers and the next of kin in the Netherlands,” wrote the association in the wake of flight 17’s destruction.
“Standing still to remember our enormous loss is now the priority. The association believes it is more appropriate to conduct a discussion over a future World Cup in Russia at a later moment, once the investigation into the disaster has been completed.”