Clegg: Strip Russia of World Cup

Russia should have their right to host the 2018 World Cup withdrawn, the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has demanded in the wake of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 being shot down over eastern Ukraine.

Last Updated: 27/07/14 at 09:23 Post Comment

Russia won the right to host the 2018 World Cup four years ago

Russia won the right to host the 2018 World Cup four years ago

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

Clegg said it was "unthinkable" at present that the tournament could go ahead in the country blamed by the West for supplying arms to the separatist rebels accused of causing the deaths of all 298 on board.

Football's world governing body FIFA recently ruled out calls from some German politicians for Russia to be boycotted, insisting the tournament could be "a force for good".

But Clegg told The Sunday Times that allowing it to go ahead without a change of course by Russian president Vladimir Putin would make the world look "weak" and "insincere" in its condemnation of Moscow's annexation of Crimea and support for the rebels.

With the EU extending the list of individuals and entities subjected to asset freezes and limiting state-owned banks' access to capital markets and to the arms and energy sectors, Clegg believes sporting events should also be part of the package of measures - including the cancellation of Russia's first Formula One Grand Prix, which is due to take place in Sochi in October.

Clegg said: "Vladimir Putin himself has to understand that he can't have his cake and eat it.

"He can't constantly, you know, push the patience of the international community beyond breaking point, destabilise a neighbouring country, protect these armed separatists in the east of Ukraine and still have the privilege and honour of receiving all the accolades in 2018 for being the host nation of the World Cup.

"That's why I've come to the view that if he doesn't change course it's just not on, the idea that Russia will host the World Cup in 2018. You can't have this - the beautiful game marred by the ugly aggression of Russia on the Russian Ukrainian border.

Pull the plug

"Not only would Vladimir Putin exploit it, I think it would make the rest of the world look so weak and so insincere about our protestations about Vladimir Putin's behaviour if we're not prepared to pull the plug."

He said that despite F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone's insistence there was no case for abandoning the Grand Prix, "the question marks I'm raising will only increase over the next coming weeks and months, over the summer and up to the Grand Prix, about Russia's entitlement to host these major events.

"Vladimir Putin is a past master at attending these sporting events and, sort of, pretending almost as if everything's utterly normal and nothing untoward is happening around him.

"And if anyone needed any reminding of how dangerous this conflict is in the heart of Europe, just ask any of the family and relatives of those loved ones they lost in that plane incident last week."

Clegg said the threat of withdrawing the World Cup would be "a very potent political and symbolic sanction".

"If there's one thing that Vladimir Putin cares about, as far as I can see, it's his sense of status. Maybe reminding him that you can't retain the same status in the world if you ignore the rest of the world, maybe that will have some effect on his thinking."

He did not rule out the United Kingdom as an alternative host given its recent history of putting on successful global sporting events.

"We've got the stadiums, we've got the infrastructure, and we've got the public backing and enthusiasm to host it," he added. "That's a decision for other people. But I'm not saying this just as a, sort of, British land grab to snatch the World Cup from under Vladimir Putin's nose."

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

I

really enjoyed this. Thanks F365 for another year of work avoidance - happy Christmas.

megabrow (cufc)
Our Person Of The Year: Alan Pardew

I

m no Sam Fan and this article sums him up beautifully. I always like to imagine that when he watches anything on TV and hears clapping, he stands up and aknowledges the applause, thinking its for him!

cozens
Football Managers On TV: Sam Allardyce

N

ah, Fergie is just having another pop at Rooney. He just wants to put him down whenever he gets a chance. Rooney is by far the best English player. Carrick is not far behind, mind. However, by elevating Carrick like that, Sir is having a dig at Wayne. Fergie is well-known for mind games like that. Good to see he's still feisty.

timbo
Van Gaal will thrive - Ferguson

Footer 365

Arsene Wenger admits Olivier Giroud deserved his red card for headbutting Nedum Onuoha

Arsene Wenger admits Olivier Giroud deserved his red card for headbutting Nedum Onuoha in Arsenal's 2-1 win over QPR.

Premier League: Alexis Sanchez and Tomas Rosicky give 10-man Arsenal 2-1 win over QPR

Alexis Sanchez and Tomas Rosicky gave Arsenal a 2-1 win over QPR despite Olivier Giroud's second-half sending off.

Premier League: Manchester City respond to Chelsea's victory by winning at West Brom

Manchester City won 3-1 at West Brom to reduce the gap on Chelsea at the top of the Premier League back to three points.

Mail Box

Van Gaal's Half-Term Report Card...

One Man United fan isn't happy with the rate the team is progressing under Louis van Gaal, while the mailbox also wishes Liverpool fans a Merry Mid-Table Christmas...

Hang On, Rafa's Success Is No Fluke...

The afternoon mailbox kicks the morning mailbox's arse after claims that Rafa Benitez has fluked his success. Plus, big talk about Liverpool's progress and lots more...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property