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March 2, 2022

FIFA Kicks Russia Out of World Cup

This decision is pleasantly surprising considering FIFA has a bad reputation for corruption.

On Monday, the international soccer federation FIFA announced that Russia will not be allowed to participate in the World Cup. The Russian team was set to play Poland on March 24, but Poland had refused to participate in that match in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

This ban is not just on the Russian World Cup team but on all Russian UEFA clubs and Euro women’s teams as well.

This verdict came after tremendous pressure from, of all organizations, the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The IOC is a fine one to talk, especially considering that it just allowed the Olympics to be held in Beijing despite the great human-rights atrocities from that nation’s communist regime. Maybe the IOC felt it couldn’t punish Russia during the recent Olympics (despite yet another Russian drug scandal) because the invasion of Ukraine hadn’t yet happened.

Between the IOC and FIFA, there is a running competition, it seems, to see which is more corrupt. In recent years, FIFA has been considered the worse of the two. In 2015, FIFA was the subject of scorn and several investigations regarding the misappropriation of funds and other corruption and criminal charges. It was so egregious that the IOC felt it had grounds to issue a censure of its own.

FIFA stirred up the international community again with the announcement that this year’s World Cup would be held in Qatar.

Why Qatar, of all places?

This Middle Eastern country is in the middle of the desert, meaning it had to push the competition (usually held in the summer) to late November and December just so that the players wouldn’t succumb to heat strokes. This displacement of dates interferes with other soccer league competitions, making this a scheduling disaster. Qatar is also a country with great human-rights violations going on. For example, the migrant workers who have been brought in to construct the stadium have been working in atrocious conditions. Many have even died. All indications are that Qatar was not a good choice for the event.

There is serious suspicion that FIFA took a substantial bribe from the oil-rich country in order to make the World Cup happen. I.e., more corruption. FIFA had plenty of time to change its mind, and yet the World Cup is still on in Qatar.

This is why it’s mildly surprising that FIFA acted to ban Russia and show solidarity with Ukraine.

FIFA and the IOC are no Women’s Tennis Association by any stretch of the imagination. But at least they still have enough of a conscience and face-saving instincts to make a good call.

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