- The Washington Times - Friday, March 7, 2014

A pair of Republican senators Friday asked soccer’s governing body to show Russia a red card for its military intervention in the Crimean section of Ukraine.

Sens. Dan Coats of Indiana and Mark Kirk of Illinois wrote to FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, pleading for him to bar President Vladimir Putin’s team from the biggest sporting event in the world this summer.

“In light of Russia’s military occupation of a sovereign Ukraine, we respectfully ask that you urgently convene an emergency session of FIFA to consider suspending Russia’s membership in FIFA, stripping Russia of the right to host the 2018 World Cup, and denying the Russian National Team the right to participate in the upcoming 2014 World Cup in Brazil,” they wrote.

They said FIFA rules bar discrimination among countries and said the body has taken similar action in the past, barring then-Yugoslavia from the European Championship in 1992 and the World Cup in 1994.

“Since Russia has similarly displayed a brazen disrespect for fundamental principles of FIFA and international law, I hope you will agree that it does not deserve the honor of either hosting the World Cup or participating in one,” the senators wrote. “We ask that a more deserving World Cup 2018 bid should be re-considered instead.”

The senators’ request follows more formal sanctions being considered by the United States and other western countries in response to Russia’s armed involvement in Crimea.

Russia’s soccer squad has experienced mixed success of late, surging in Euro 2008 before losing in the semifinals and then failing to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

It crashed out of Euro 2012 in the group stage.

In Brazil this summer, the country avoided the so-called “Group of Death” and will face Belgium, Algeria and South Korea in group play.

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