Dem senator: Russia ‘unsuitable’ FIFA World Cup host
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) says Russia’s support for Syrian President Bashar Assad should disqualify it from hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament.
“The government of the host nation, led by Vladimir Putin, has taken repeated actions completely inconsistent with the humanitarian values of FIFA,” Blumenthal said in a Wednesday letter to FIFA President Gianni Infantino. “Your organization rightly acknowledges it has ‘a duty to society that goes beyond football.’
“That duty must include recognizing Russia is an unsuitable host nation, given its role enabling gross violations of international law in Syria.”
Russia has stood by Assad, who is facing armed opposition in a yearslong civil war, amid international condemnation of his treatment of the Syrian people. U.S. and Western officials have accused Assad’s forces of conducting a chemical weapons attack earlier this month that targeted civilians in a rebel-held province. The U.S. launched a missile strike last week targeting the air base where the chemical attack is believed to have originated.
Last Wednesday, Russia blocked a United Nations resolution against Syria — the eighth time it’s done so since the start of Syria’s civil war in 2011.
Russia is scheduled to host the World Cup next summer, with the final slated for July 15 at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.
Blumenthal said that FIFA should relocate the event.
“The results were horrific,” he said of the April 4 incident that reportedly killed more than 80 Syrian civilians. “Babies and children choking, gasping for breath, foaming at the mouth.”
“Rather than join the international community to hold Assad accountable for this intolerable attack, the Russian government is helping cover up this war crime.”