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Senators Urge FIFA To Take World Cup Away From Russia

  • RFE/RL

A light installation shows the official logotype of the 2018 FIFA World Cup during its unveiling ceremony at the Bolshoi Theater building in Moscow in October 2014.

A light installation shows the official logotype of the 2018 FIFA World Cup during its unveiling ceremony at the Bolshoi Theater building in Moscow in October 2014.

Thirteen U.S. senators have written to FIFA, soccer's world governing body, urging the organization to replace Russia as host of the 2018 World Cup.

Senators Robert Menendez (Democrat-New Jersey) and Ron Johnson (Republican-Wisconsin) organized the letter, released on April 1, calling on FIFA to move the soccer championship because of Russia's "ongoing violations of the territorial integrity of Ukraine."

Nine Republicans -- including former presidential candidate John McCain -- and four Democrats signed the letter.

"Allowing Russia to host the FIFA World Cup inappropriately bolsters the prestige of...[Russian President Vladimir Putin's]...regime at a time when it should be condemned," the senators said.

FIFA has thus far rejected calls for the event -- one of the world's top sporting events -- to be moved away from Russia.

Russia illegally annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 and is accused by Ukraine, Western countries, and NATO of backing pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, a charge Moscow denies.

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