By Jesse Byrnes - 07/23/14 05:12 PM EDT
German lawmakers are calling for stripping the 2018 World Cup from Russia to punish Moscow over the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
"The FIFA football association should think about whether Moscow is an appropriate host if it can't even guarantee safe airways," Michael Fuchs, a leading German parliamentarian, told business newspaper Handelsblatt Online on Wednesday
"We have enough stadiums that are World Cup ready," he added.
Peter Beuth, interior minister for the German state of Hesse and chairman of the conference for the nation's sports ministers told Bild it would be "unimaginable" to let Russia host if Russian President Vladimir Putin did not cooperate with international investigators.
Another German politician, the Christian Social Union party’s Stephan Mayer also told Bild that relocating the tournament, awarded to Russia in 2010, “should not be taboo.”
The German government, though, looked past the comments from members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's governing coalition.
"We have more pressing problems now than this," a German government spokesman told The Associated Press, noting the event is four years away.
Russia is facing increased pressure over its alleged support of rebels believed responsible for downing the jet and killing all 295 on board last week. U.S. officials believe the jet was brought down by a surface to air missile fired from territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine.
U.S. and European leaders are mulling harsher economic sanctions while Russia denies involvement.
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation" put blame for the downed plane at Putin’s feet and said "symbolic" sanctions should also be considered alongside economic ones.
“For instance, I think we should talk about the World Cup. Why should countries be going to Moscow?" King said.
In March, Republican Sens. Mark KirkMark KirkOvernight Healthcare: Blame game over Zika funding Overnight Healthcare: Biggest abortion rights win in 25 years | Justice Kennedy again steps to the left The Trail 2016: Warren takes VP batting practice MORE (Ill.) and Dan CoatsDan CoatsBipartisan gun measure survives test vote Senate panel advances nominee who Democrats blasted on Social Security Lobbying World MORE (Ind.) wrote to FIFA President Sepp Blatter requesting Russia be kicked out of the 2014 World Cup and banned from the 2018 competition over its invasion of Crimea.
FIFA rebuffed those calls. There is no indication soccer’s international governing body will change course for 2018.
FIFA said it would not comment earlier this week on plans to change venues, Reuters reported. A member of the group's executive committee in Germany said contracting and licensing had already started for the Russian event.
Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko said before the downing of the Malaysia Airlines jet that the Ukrainian conflict would not affect the 2018 event.
Putin watched in Brazil as Germany won this year's World Cup.