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How, Despite Corruption, FIFA Can Put Pressure on Russia

FIFA has the opportunity to make a global statement against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But can they step up to be a voice when it matters?

How, Despite Corruption, FIFA Can Put Pressure on Russia


Estimated Reading Time: 2 Minutes

World Cup Qualifiers will continue in the coming weeks, and there are some big international implications. Poland and Sweden have come out saying they refuse to play against Russia in their next qualifiers. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, sports hardly seem important. However an organization like FIFA could send shockwaves throughout the world.

With Poland and Sweden refusing to play, FIFA has a decision to make. Do they force them to forfeit, giving them a 3-0 loss in the matchup? Or do they stand up to the horrors that Russia is committing, disqualifying them from the rest of qualifying. While this would seem unfair to the athletes themselves, many of whom have spoken out against Putin’s aggression, it would send a clear message that someone is finally taking the Kremlin’s actions seriously.

While Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stands his ground and tries to lead the defense of his nation, other world leaders are discussion “sanctions” against Russia that won’t actually hit the Russians where it hurts. It seems these countries are unwilling to sacrifice what they get from Russia in order to show Putin what he’s doing is a catastrophic aggression against humanity.

So as world leaders scramble to figure out a diplomatic approach to stand against the slaughter of a sovereign nation, FIFA could step in.

Unfortunately, the world of sports do have a foothold in international politics. Because of that, FIFA could help to knock over the first domino in a major chain against Russia.

The question becomes whether world football’s governing body would be willing to take a stand against a country they very recently went to bed with. What really would suck though, is I’d expect if FIFA do take action against Russia, it won’t be for the right reasons. They are allowing slave built stadiums to host the World Cup in Qatar this year. As that tournament inches closer, more scrutiny is going to continue to fall on FIFA and the clear bribes they took in awarding the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Of course, I’m merely speculating. But, based on what I’ve seen them do over the years, it seems more likely to be reality than not.

UEFA moving the Champions League final is a start, but that’s just a drop in the bucket. Sporting events across the world this weekend have held moments standing with the Ukrainian people. However just sending our verbal support is simply not enough. We need the rug to be ripped out from under Russia, and fast. And it can’t just be booting them from the World Cup. Immediately cease all Russian state kit sponsors. Disqualify Russian clubs from European competitions. Find other ways to put pressure on the Kremlin.

FIFA has the ability and resources to deal a blow. But will they step into the ring?

Kevin is an actor, director, playwright, and musician who works in tech. He is die hard New England sports and an avid Tottenham supporter. His qualifications include scoring 1 point in his elementary school basketball career, 4 years of mixed little league results, and breaking his arm with a skip-it days before pre-season workouts started for Freshman football.

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