The dreadful incident which saw 298 innocent passengers and crew seemingly shot from the skies on flight MH17, was an abhorrent act. While there’s currently no certainty about who was responsible, the plane was brought down in an area of Ukraine which is occupied by Russian-backed rebels. Consequently, world leaders from all corners have pointed to the potential involvement of Russia itself – a nation that FIFA has triumphantly championed as a future host of the FIFA World Cup.
I’m happy to admit that government politics is not something I’m equipped to discuss, but I have been known to take the odd run at world sport’s ability – even responsibility – to reflect the views of the global community. So this morning I was very interested to be made aware of a petition which implores FIFA to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the rest of the civilised world and threaten withdrawal of Russia’s right to stage the World Cup in 2018 unless they provide maximum cooperation.
The petition brings into sharp focus the fact that sport and politics DO mix and sport DOES have a part to play in global affairs. It is addressed to FIFA President, Sepp Blatter and FIFA’s Executive Committee and says: “Let President Putin know that Russia will lose the 2018 World Cup if Russia does not cooperate with the international community.” Within its argument the petition reflects that; “FIFA is uniquely placed to show moral turpitude…”
I couldn’t agree more. The petition is available on this link . It has been created by the Australian website, ‘Football Today’ (www.footballtoday.com.au) and is being hosted by the internationally renowned website change.org.
The world is currently seeking answers to what happened over Ukraine airspace last week and you will all undoubtedly be aware of the current level of international condemnation of Russia’s possible involvement which makes this such a valid cause. Over the weekend the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott said it was likely the plane was brought down by Russian rebels using Russian-supplied heavy artillery. He said: “Anyone who gave such a weapon to people who are absolutely incapable of using it has a heavy responsibility.”
The U.S. Secretary Of State, John Kerry said: “There’s an enormous amount of evidence that points to the involvement of Russia” and the British Prime Minister, David Cameron added that Europe and the West… “must fundamentally change our approach to Russia.”
So too should FIFA and the message is clear. Football’s world governing body should align itself with growing world opinion and threaten to withdraw its intention to ‘reward’ Russia with global prestige and billions of dollars worth of commercial benefit. I urge each and everyone of you to sign the petition.
The International Olympic Committee drew heavy criticism for its selection of the Russian City of Sochi as host for this year’s Winter Olympics because of Russia’s unacceptable Human Rights record. FIFA now has to show it’s mettle.
So, as one member in a world population of 7 billion, I urge you to sign the petition – as a mark of respect for the 298 who no longer have that option and their families.