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Russian State Newspaper Duped By Parody About U.S. Military Strikes On FIFA

The Russian government’s official daily newspaper appears to have been duped by a satirical report stating that U.S. Senator John McCain supports American “military action” against FIFA after Switzerland this week arrested seven officials with global soccer’s governing body on corruption charges.

In a May 29 op-ed published by Russia’s state-owned Rossiiskaya Gazeta, the author states as a fact that McCain “has decided to sic the Pentagon” on FIFA after the officials were arrested in Zurich on May 27 based on a request by U.S. prosecutors.

“It seems the time is not far off when McCain will demand that American forces invade the UN headquarters,” writes the author, Vladislav Vorobyov.

The kindling for Vorobyov’s rage, however, was a parody piece by the well-known American satirist Andy Borowitz that was published May 28 on the website of the the U.S. magazine The New Yorker.

Borowitz’s piece, titled McCain Urges Military Strikes Against FIFA, clearly lampoons the U.S. senator’s reputation as a security hawk whom critics -- including top Russian officials -- regularly portray as dangerously supportive of deploying the American military to solve international crises.

In 2007, McCain famously quoted a parody of the Beach Boys song Barbara Ann in a joke about launching military strikes against Iran.

“That old Beach Boys song, ‘Bomb Iran,’” McCain said at an appearance in 2007 during his failed presidential campaign.

In his Rossiiskaya Gazeta op-ed, Vorobyov cites the following fake quote from McCain concocted by the satirist:

“These are people who only understand one thing: force,” McCain said on the floor of the United States Senate. “We must make FIFA taste the vengeful might and fury of the United States military.”

Russia’s leadership, including President Vladimir Putin, have reacted angrily to the arrest of the FIFA officials in connection with a U.S. corruption case and a Swiss criminal probe linked to the bidding process that awarded Russia the World Cup in 2018 and Qatar the World Cup in 2022.

Swiss authorities announced they were opening their own criminal probe tied to the bidding process that awarded Russia the World Cup in 2018 and Qatar the World Cup in 2022.

Swiss authorities on May 27 arrested senior soccer officials for alleged corruption in connection with a U.S. case targeting FIFA executives and launched their own criminal proceedings relating to the way the World Cups in 2018 and 2022 were awarded to Russia and Qatar.

Before the Kremlin commented on the shocking legal drama unfolding over alleged activities at global soccer authority FIFA, the Russian Internet and other media lit up as Russians reacted to news of investigations that could cast a harsh light on Russia's successful bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

“If [McCain] had real power, who would he have given the order to bomb next?” Vorobyov writes in his op-ed. “Soccer stadiums?”

The Russian news portal The Insider cited Rossiiskaya Gazeta editor in chief Vladislav Fronin as saying that he was unaware of the situation with the op-ed and could not comment.

-- Carl Schreck

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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