(JTA) — Israel would participate in the 2014 World Cup if the head of international soccer’s governing body heeds the suggestion of two U.S. senators to sanction Russia over its Crimea actions.
Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Dan Coates (R-Ind.) in their letter last week urged FIFA Chairman Sepp Blatter to suspend Russia from the World Cup in Brazil as punishment for its takeover of Crimea.
If Russia is banned from participation, its place would be assigned to Israel, which finished third in Group F at the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification, trailing Russia and Portugal.
“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,” the senators’ letter said.
Russia, the letter said, “does not deserve the honor of either hosting the World Cup or participating in one.”
According to Article 3 of the FIFA statutes, the letter said, “discrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people on account of ethnic origin, gender, language, religion, politics or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.”
On Friday, Blatter reiterated that Russia will host the 2018 World Cup, but did not comment on participation in the upcoming World Cup.
During the Balkan crisis, Yugoslavia was banned from playing in both the 1992 European Championship and the 1994 World Cup.
The United States and the European Union already have imposed economic sanctions against Russia following its occupation of Ukrainian military bases and other facilities.