2018 World Cup: EU countries consider boycott

Joe Hall
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Vladimir Putin delivers a speech after Russia was chosen to host the 2018 World Cup (Source: Getty)

The EU is considering a boycott of the 2018 Russia World Cup as a future sanction against the country's role in the Ukraine crisis.

Sporting sanctions will not form part of the European Commission's debate about further action against Rusia today, which is expected to announce a ban on the purchase of Russian government bonds.

However, a number of EU ambassadors have discussed suspending Russia from "high profile international, cultural, economic or sporting events", according to The Financial Times.

Russia is expected to spend 600bn roubles (£9.7bn) hosting the tournament across 11 cities in four years' time. In July, world football governing body Fifa issued a statement against any proposed boycott of the tournament and suggested that a World Cup on Russian soil could instead provide a platform for "constructive dialogue" between governments.

Fifa said:

History has shown so far that boycotting sport events or a policy of isolation or confrontation are not the most effective ways to solve problems. The hosting of the Fifa World Cup with the global attention it attracts can be a powerful catalyst for constructive dialogue between people and governments, helping to bring positive social developments.
FIFA is convinced that, through football, particularly the FIFA World Cup and its international spotlight, we can achieve positive change in the world, but football cannot be seen as a solution for all issues, particularly those related to world politics.
Russian President Vladimir Putin supports this line of thinking, responding to the suggestion of a possible boycott by saying "Fifa has already said football and sport are outside politics and I think that is the right approach".
However, European football governing body Uefa has denounced Russia for incorporating three Crimean football clubs into their leagues and refused to recognise the move as legitimate. Uefa's statement came after the Football Federation of Ukraine called upon both Fifa and Uefa to take action.
In the UK, both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have already called upon Russia to be stripped of the tournament, should they continue to be involved with Ukrainian separatists but David Cameron poured cold water on the idea in July.
There is historical precedent for imposing sporting sanctions on Russia, after the US led a boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympic games in which 65 countries declined an invitation to participate.

Meanwhile markets have reacted positively this morning after Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko tweeted this morning that he had reached an agreement with Putin for a permanent ceasefire in the Donbass region.

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