FIFA President Sepp Blatter told the world via Twitter that he just met with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Blatter claims the tournament will “build bridges.”
Just met President Putin. I believe the 2018 #WorldCup will help to build bridges.
— Joseph S Blatter (@SeppBlatter) April 20, 2015
Apparently, he is the only one who is optimistic about Russia.
@SeppBlatter how much more money did he give you to say that?
— Martin Chalk (@mcchalk) April 20, 2015
@SeppBlatter what about shooting planes out of the sky you drip?
— Daniel Cappellacci (@GiovanniCap89) April 20, 2015
@SeppBlatter Bridges with LGBT communities?
— Andrew Emmerson (@andy_emmers) April 20, 2015
@SeppBlatter <–Dunce . It helps legitimize a tyrant.
— Kenneth W. Cromwell (@MadG0d) April 20, 2015
— Quinten Teunissen (@qteunissen) April 20, 2015
@SeppBlatter How much in the envelope?
— Matt Partridge (@partridge1971) April 20, 2015
But none of this matters to Blatter.
“Some people are wanting the World Cup to be taken away from Russia but we will give one answer to this – we are involved in football and we will not allow politics to get in the way,” he said after the meeting.
These people include a bipartisan group of United States senators.
“With the goal of ending the crisis in Ukraine and ensuring a successful 2018 World Cup, we strongly encourage FIFA to deny the Putin regime the privilege of hosting the 2018 World Cup and make preparations for an alternate host country,” the senators told Blatter. “Russia to host the FIFA World Cup inappropriately bolsters the prestige of the Putin regime at a time when it should be condemned and provides economic relief at a time when much of the international community is imposing economic sanctions.”
After the Ukrainian parliament ousted Russian-backed President Viktor Yanukovych, Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula in March 2014. Russian soldiers continue to fight in east Ukraine. The invasion led to a crackdown on freedom of press in Russia. On March 12, Lenta.ru’s chief editor Galina Timchenko resigned, but employees said she was fired because she defied the Kremlin and published an interview that quoted the Right Sector Party’s leader. Moscow identifies the group as extremist and a threat to Russia. The next day many employees resigned in protest of her firing and censorship efforts from Moscow. Kommersant reporter Anastasia Karimova posted her resignation letter on Facebook and Instagram. She left because of censorship and said there is no acceptable work in Moscow for journalists. Despite Moscow’s explanations, many know it is because of tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
Roskomnadzor, Russia’s media watchdog group, has updated a “personal data” law to allow for the government to regulate and ban memes using the likenesses of public personalities, including Putin. The Kremlin also passed a law that bans profanity in the arts and purged Russian schoolbooks. Enlightenment, a publishing company from the Soviet Union days, was the only company to survive the purge.
Ukraine also claims that the Russians and pro-Russian rebels in the east shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on July 17, 2014, near Torez in the Donetsk Oblast. The crash killed all 283 passengers and 15 crewmembers.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has asked his allies to boycott the tournament.
“I think there has to be discussion of a boycott of this World Cup,” declared Poroshenko. “As long as there are Russian troops in Ukraine I think a World Cup in that country is unthinkable.”