Typing out that title seemed weirdly redundant, like calling an article “Water: good cure for thirst”. It is so abundantly obvious that stripping Russia of the 2018 World Cup is the least that should happen post-MH17. Yet a Tory MP described the DPM’s call for this as “pretty amateur” adding that “a great deal is going to happen between then and now”. I am trying to decipher this last quote and I’m still struggling. So is this an allusion to a possible “Russian Spring”? And if that seems likely, isn’t holding the World Cup somewhere that we aren’t even sure will have any sort of functioning state at the time of the event not the greatest idea in the world? Perhaps I misunderstood what the MP meant.
Which isn’t much of a surprise, given that obfuscation is the name of the game when discussing Russia these days. Putin and his regime should be punished, certainly – just not too much, goes the line, said in as many different permutations as the English language can muster. So beyond anything else, I’m glad Nick has said something unequivocal about the situation in Ukraine. Because I’ll say it again: the World Cup should be taken away from Russia. Western powers, as I alluded to, are looking for ways to punish Putin without having to get into anything military; I can’t think of anything better than taking Putin’s prize toy away in terms of something that will upset the regime in Moscow without being overly aggressive and possibly starting a war no one wants.
Of course, all of this is academic anyhow, and perhaps that’s what the Right Honourable Gentleman was referring to when he mentioned naivety. The World Cup is not any government’s to give or take. It is for FIFA to decide, and the likelihood of the Blatter Bunch reallocating the Russian World Cup is about as likely as the next president of said organisation being elected in a fair and transparent way next time the hot seat is free. Just not going to happen.
But that doesn’t stop Clegg’s statement from being any less true. While governments don’t have the ability to decide where the World Cup goes and where it does not, echoing Nick’s line certainly doesn’t hurt any. Who knows, perhaps it might even cause more people to take it up as a good idea, and FIFA might even then come under pressure to at least state why they feel Russia should keep the world’s biggest sporting event. Because while I accept that the West cannot get into a military tussle with Russia, one that would be tantamount to World War III, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t at least win the war of words.
Instead, we hear constantly about sanctions, sanctions, more sanctions. This one will really sting, we hear. Imagine if through constant harping about it from western governments the World Cup really was placed elsewhere for 2018 and Putin really did lose his favourite prize. Wouldn’t that be something?