FIFA Relationship With Russia Hits Rough Spot Over 2018 World Cup
Relations between FIFA and its next World Cup host, Russia, "are under strain," according to the AP. Attempts by the Russian football authorities to integrate three clubs from Crimea this season -- without consent from Ukraine -- "have escalated tensions between the two countries' football federations, which are both members of FIFA and UEFA." Though the game's world and European governing bodies "have reason to at least warn the Russian Football Union of disciplinary action, neither has taken that step." FIFA's diplomacy with Russia "seems restrained compared with its typically strict enforcement of rules that prohibit government interference in how football federations manage their affairs." The football problem "has lingered beyond the Brazil-hosted World Cup and into the new season with Russia on the clock as upcoming host." Top Russian clubs "have even raised concern UEFA could be forced to suspend them from the Champions League and Europa League." UEFA "has publicly expressed hope that the Russian and Ukrainian federations will find a compromise" (AP, 8/20).