FIFA rejects calls to strip Russia of World Cup

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 25, 2014 at 11:44 am •  Published: July 25, 2014
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GENEVA (AP) — FIFA rejected calls to move the 2018 World Cup from Russia, saying the tournament "can achieve positive change."

Some lawmakers in Germany want the hosting rights reviewed because of Russia's alleged involvement in shooting down a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine last week.

Political pressure on Russia increased Friday when the European Union sought to freeze assets and restrict travel for more individuals and businesses.

FIFA said in a statement it "deplores any form of violence" and questions the purpose of relocating the showcase tournament.

"History has shown so far that boycotting sport events or a policy of isolation or confrontation are not the most effective ways to solve problems," FIFA said, adding that global attention on the World Cup "can be a powerful catalyst for constructive dialogue between people and governments."

The conflict between Ukraine and pro-Russia separatist rebels escalated days after the World Cup ended in Brazil.

On July 13 in Rio de Janeiro, Russian President Vladimir Putin attended a World Cup handover ceremony with Brazilian counterpart Dilma Rousseff. Both then sat next to FIFA President Sepp Blatter to watch the final at the Maracana Stadium, won by Germany.

FIFA, which has Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko on its executive committee, said a World Cup in the country "can be a force for good."

"FIFA believes this will be the case for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia," the governing body said.

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