Nick Clegg has called for Russia to be stripped of its right to host the World Cup in 2018, saying it would be “unthinkable” for the country to enjoy the prestige of hosting the event after the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
The deputy prime minister made the comments in an interview with the Sunday Times, calling for the country to be stripped of its World Cup host status as part of sanctions against Russia or the rest of the world risked “looking weak.”
In an interview with the newspaper Clegg said:
“We’ve got to take tougher sanctions, but also we’ve got to make it quite clear that he cannot expect to get the privileges of being at the top table of world affairs if he’s not prepared to play by the basic rules of world affairs. If he carries on with this belligerent behaviour . . . it’s unthinkable that he should have the privilege of hosting the World Cup in 2018. You can’t have the beautiful game marred by the ugly aggression of Russia on the Russian-Ukrainian border.”
World Cup governing body Fifa rejected similar suggestions made by German politicians earlier in the week, saying the tournament could be a force for good.
Clegg also warned that Russia should not host its first Formula One Grand Prix, due to take place in Sochi in October, a move ruled out by Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone however.
Clegg’s comments come ahead of an agreement on further sanctions against Russia due to be signed off by the EU on Tuesday. The sanctions come as a result of pro-Russian separatists being linked to the shooting down of flight MH17 and Putin’s lack of cooperation with European authorities investigating the incident.