The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has turned down a request by U.S. senators to ban Russia's national team from participating in the World Cup in 2014 and strip Russia of its right to host the world soccer championship in 2018.
In early March, Senators Mark Kirk and Dan Coats sent FIFA a request to suspend Russia's membership in the organization. According to them, in Crimea, Russia violated Article 3 of the FIFA statutes on discrimination based on racial, political or other grounds.
It was unlikely from the beginning that the senators would receive any answer to their appeal. At FIFA, as well as UEFA, they frown on outsiders who try to meddle in their affairs, especially when they try to mix soccer and politics.
But yesterday U.S. media sources published a reply signed by FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke.
"We would like to emphasize that teams participate in the World Cup and other competitions under the auspices of FIFA solely on the basis of the principle of sports and nothing else."
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter said much the same in a comment on the senators' request. "On behalf of FIFA and all national federations, I urge us to unite our efforts and to protect the game from the interference of politics and politicians."
UEFA is in full agreement with FIFA. UEFA president Michel Platini also reacted quite sharply to this question.
"We are tired of such requests," said Platini. “If you want to boycott, boycott the embassy, interfere with economic transactions. Just don't expect anything from us. Unfortunately, there are lots of people in the world who don't like sports, and they are aren't afraid to show it, speaking out with requests like this. Let politicians take care of politics. Sports needs to be a place that brings people together."
First published in Russian in Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
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