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Volume 6 No. 235
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What They're Saying ... Re: Should Russia Keep 2018 Russia World Cup, Sochi GP

A number of figures in sports and politics have weighed in on Russia’s viability as a host of an F1 GP in October and the World Cup in ’18 following the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 plane crash that killed 298 people on July 17 and the ongoing conflict in the Ukraine. One of the first to suggest re-evaluating the 2018 World Cup venue was MICHAEL FUCHS, deputy head of German Chancellor ANGELA MERKEL's conservative bloc in the German parliament, who said that taking away Russia's right to hold the football tournament "may have a significantly greater impact than more economic sanctions." In the weeks following the crash, several more European sports execs and politicians have joined the debate regarding Russia hosting upcoming sporting events.

Fuchs: "The FIFA football association should think about whether Moscow is an appropriate host if it can't even guarantee safe airways" (REUTERS, 7/23).

Interior Minister of the German state of Hesse PETER BEUTH said staging the World Cup in Russia in '18 would be "unimaginable" if Russian President VLADIMIR PUTIN did not actively cooperate with the crash investigation (REUTERS, 7/23).

Theo Zwanziger
German FIFA Exec Committee Member THEO ZWANZIGER: "The World Cup has been awarded to Russia, contracts have been signed and rights issued. ... Sport must go places even if it is painful" (REUTERS, 7/23).

FIFA said in a statement, "FIFA deplores any form of violence and will continue to use its tournaments to promote dialogue, understanding and peace among peoples. 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" (REUTERS, 7/25).

The Dutch FA (KNVB) said in a statement, "We are aware that a future World Cup in Russia stirs great emotion among all football fans and relatives in the Netherlands. The association believes it is more appropriate to conduct a discussion over a future World Cup in Russia at a later date, once the investigation into the disaster has been completed." (AFP, 7/24).

U.K. Deputy PM NICK CLEGG: "After this terrible, terrible downing of that jet, it is essential that the European Union gets tough on Vladimir Putin. 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 behavior … 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” (SUNDAY TIMES, 7/27).

John McCain
A U.K. PM spokesperson said in a statement, "The prime minister does not believe we should reach immediately for boycotts, but it is also not surprising, given Russian behaviour, that people are starting to raise the issue. It shows the importance of Russia changing course, before its international standing is damaged even further" (LONDON TIMES, 7/28).

U.S. Senator JOHN MCCAIN: "It absolutely should be reconsidered, but I would hasten to add that a unilateral decision by the United States would not bode well. I’d like to see the United States and others -- say, the British perhaps and other countries -- raise the issue in ordinary meetings, periodic meetings that they have. Say, ‘We need to discuss this issue. Is it appropriate to have this venue in Russia at this particular time, and aren’t there other countries that would be far less controversial?’" (ABC NEWS, 7/30).

FROM F1...

Williams F1 Deputy Team Principal CLAIRE WILLIAMS: "Obviously what's going on in Russia and that part of the world is of huge concern to everybody. But we've always said that as a sport we try and disengage from taking a political angle on these things" (REUTERS, 7/25).

Monisha Kaltenborn
Sauber Team Principal MONISHA KALTENBORN: "We have to rely on the governing body and the commercial rights holder. They are the ones who have the responsibility and we will do as they say like we’ve done in the past” (REUTERS, 7/25).

F1 CEO BERNIE ECCLESTONE: "Putin personally has been very supportive and very helpful and we will do the same" (REUTERS, 7/25).