Senators: Strip World Cup from Russia
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A bipartisan group of senators is doubling down to pressure FIFA, soccer's international governing body, to move the 2018 World Cup outside of Russia.

The senators said they are encouraging the World Cup be moved “with the goal of ending the crisis in Ukraine" and to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“With the goal of ending the crisis in Ukraine and ensuring a successful 2018 World Cup, we strongly encourage FIFA to deny the Putin regime the privilege of hosting the 2018 World Cup and make preparations for an alternate host country,” the senators wrote in a letter to FIFA President Joseph Blatter dated Tuesday and released on Wednesday.

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The senators say holding the World Cup in Russia would give Putin's government “economic relief” from international sanctions.

“Russia to host the FIFA World Cup inappropriately bolsters the prestige of the Putin regime at a time when it should be condemned and provides economic relief at a time when much of the international community is imposing economic sanctions,” the lawmakers said.

The letter isn’t the first time senators have tried to pressure the international organization into removing Russia as the host of the 2018 games.

McCain and Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyLawmakers wary as US on cusp of initial deal with Taliban Democratic senators ask FDA to ban device used to shock disabled students Senators to meet with Zelensky after impeachment trial MORE (D-Conn.) said last year that the location of the tournament shouls be reconsidered.

Russia has faced international criticism after forcibly annexing Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in early 2014. Western nations also accuse Russia of sending troops and equipment to separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine.

Putin’s government has denied it is sending military equipment or personnel across the border.

The senators pointed out that more than 40 countries that are also FIFA members have hit Russia with sanctions over its role in the Ukraine conflict.  

“More than 40 countries, all FIFA members, have implemented sanctions on Russia in an effort to end the conflict,” they wrote in the letter.

“It is unacceptable that … FIFA would not even consider allowing its members to vote on moving the 2018 competition to a country that respects the shared principles of FIFA and international law.”