Senators to FIFA: Russia unfit to host World Cup

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) are calling on FIFA and the global community to reconsider holding the next World Cup in Russia in 2018.

“If in the face of a downed airliner, in the face of crippling sanctions from the European Union, Putin thumbs his nose at the international community and continues to send in arms and personnel into eastern Ukraine, then I’m not sure how you reward this guy and his government with a major, international competition,” Murphy said Wednesday.

McCain, who has traveled to Ukraine with Murphy, agreed on the ESPN/ABC podcast “Capital Games” that Russia is unworthy of hosting the event, though he cautioned against the U.S. insisting on a change alone.

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“It absolutely should be reconsidered, but I would hasten to add that a unilateral decision by the United States would not bode well,” McCain said.

McCain said he’d like other countries, such as Great Britain, to join with the U.S. and demand a change of venue.

“Say, ‘We need to discuss this issue. Is it appropriate to have this venue in Russia at this particular time? And aren’t there other countries that would be far less controversial?’” McCain advised. Russia hosted the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February.

ABC News noted FIFA already rejected recent requests to reconsider Russia as the hosting country.

FIFA said in a statement last week that the international soccer tournament "can achieve positive change" and "can be a powerful catalyst for constructive dialogue between people and governments." 

McCain’s and Murphy’s comments come the day after the Obama administration, in conjunction with the EU, announced much tougher sanctions against Russia that target its energy, defense and financial sectors.