Several senior politicians in Germany on Wednesday raised the possibility of stripping Russia of its right to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup after pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine shot down a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane on July 17. While the European Union has threatened to impose harsh economic sanctions on Russia, Michael Fuchs, deputy head of the conservative bloc in the German parliament, said taking away Russia’s right to host the tournament could have a significantly stronger impact than more economic sanctions.
“FIFA should think about whether Moscow is an appropriate host if it can’t even guarantee safe airways,” Fuchs told Handelsblatt Online, adding that Germany and France could take over the tournament if needed. He pointed out further that economic sanctions would be difficult to implement due to Russia’s long borders, which are too porous to effectively seal off imports.
“If [Russian President Vladimir] Putin doesn’t actively cooperate on clearing up the plane crash, the soccer World Cup in Russia in 2018 is unimaginable,” Peter Beuth, the interior minister of the state of Hesse, told Germany’s top-selling daily Bild. Stephan Mayer, a member of Bavaria’s conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), also said withdrawing the World Cup from Russia “should not be taboo."