Published September 3, 2014
Could boycotting the 2018 World Cup be more effective at persuading Russian President Vladimir Putin "than an increasingly long list of economic sanctions?," ask Spiegel & Oliver of the FINANCIAL TIMES. For the first time since the Ukraine crisis began nine months ago, EU diplomats "are actively considering the idea."
According to an options paper circulated in European capitals on Tuesday, the EU "is considering whether to recommend suspending Russia from 'high-profile international cultural, economic or sporting events' including Formula One races, European football competitions and the next World Cup, awarded to Russia in 2010."
Diplomats said that a boycott of the World Cup "would not be among the new sanctions to be agreed by the end of the week." But during a meeting of EU ambassadors on Monday, several delegations -- particularly Estonia and Lithuania -- "showed great enthusiasm for the idea." A Latvian diplomat said, "This kind of discussion is timely, as we do not see good will from Russian side." Mujtaba Rahman, head of European analysis at the Eurasia Group risk consultancy, said, "Boycotting a prestigious international sports event has a distinctively Cold War feel to it. This will sting the Russians far more than anything the EU will do on finance this round."
FIFA "has already come out against moving the 2018 World Cup," arguing shortly after the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 that "boycotting sport events ... are not the most effective ways to solve problems" (FT, 9/2