FIFA tells senators it won't ban Russia from World Cup tournament

The governing body of the World Cup soccer tournament told two Republican senators it cannot suspend Russia from World Cup play because of Moscow's invasion and annexation of Crimea. 

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Sens. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) blasted FIFA's decision Wednesday and called on the governing body to reconsider.  

“FIFA suggests that outrageous misbehavior by member states does not matter because such decisions are irrelevant to soccer,” Coats said in a statement. “This argument is not supported by facts."  

Coats noted that Yugoslavia was banned from the games in 1992 due to its role in the Balkan wars. 

"I continue to call upon FIFA leadership to impose the same punishment on Russia," he said.  

Coats and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) sent a letter to FIFA one month ago calling for the organization to ban Russia from the World Cup later this year and strip Moscow of host status in 2018. 

Coats has noted FIFA's rules say a country can be suspended or expelled due to discrimination of any kind against another country or group of people.

In a letter distributed by Coats on Wednesday, FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke said the rule only governs the teams themselves and not necessarily the host countries. 

"Please be informed that such statutes are applicable to and binding for members of FIFA, but not per se to entities outside the pyramidal structure of the game of football," he said. 

Valcke sad FIFA is committed to promoting "friendly relations" through soccer and said it hoped those teams it governs adhere to its bylaws and international law. 

"We will continue to promote such a stance as the most constructive way to address possible issues and contribute to build a better future," he said.