Germany Wants Russia Stripped Of 2018 World Cup Hosting Right
Leading German politicians have called for Russia to be stripped of hosting the next football World Cup in response to the shooting down of Flight MH17.
Russia is due to host the FIFA World Cup in 2018, but in the home of reigning world champions Germany there are growing calls for the competition to be moved as punishment for Vladimir Putin’s role in backing the rebels accused of downing the airliner.
“If President Putin doesn’t back down and continues to fuel the crisis, the taboo must end on removing the World Cup from Russia in 2018,” said Stephan Mayer, the domestic policy spokesman of Angela Merkel’s CDU parliamentary party group.
The group’s vice-chairman, Michael Fuchs, suggested the competition could be held jointly in Germany, France and Italy instead.
“If Putin does not become actively involved in the investigation of the plane crash, the football World Cup 2018 in Russia is unimaginable,” said Peter Beuth, the Hesse interior minister, who chairs the conference of sports ministers from Germany’s various states.
“Firstly, the safety of players and fans cannot be guaranteed” in Russia, said Bernd Fabritius, an MP. “And secondly, a country that behaves like a rogue state should not be rewarded with such an international media event.”
The calls served to underline the dramatic shift in opinion in Germany since Flight MH17 was shot down.
Just weeks ago, Germany was still seen as the leading opponent of tougher EU sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis, in large part for fear of damaging its own economy.
But there has been widespread anger since the downing of the airliner, and the country’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has called for tougher sanctions.
The German press reacted furiously after EU leaders failed to announce new sanctions on Tuesday.
“Is the EU only for outrageous inaction?” the mass-market tabloid Bild asked in its headline, adding “A Russian rocket kills 298 people – yet the EU bows to Putin”.
A comment piece in the influential Süddeustche Zeitung – which bore the headline “Threaten, threaten, but do nothing” – lambasted French president François Hollande for going ahead with the sale of a Mistral warship to Russia.
“The French president makes his country ridiculous and the EU with it,” the piece said.