German politicians mull moving 2018 World Cup from Russia

Roussef, Blatter (center) and Putin. July 13, Rio di Janeiro. [Presidential Press and Information Office, Russia]

Several senior German lawmakers have raised the possibility of stripping Russia of its right to host the 2018 World Cup. Germany's football association said it was very worried about events following the downing of a passenger plane over Ukraine.

Western states have blamed pro-Russian separatists battling Kyiv's forces in eastern Ukraine for the downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 17 in which 298 people were killed.

>> Read: Downed Malaysian plane: ‘War has gone beyond Ukraine’

The European Union has threatened to impose harsher economic sanctions on Russia, with a decision expected later today (25 July).

>> Read: EU sanctions to exclude Russia from capital markets

Taking away Russia's right to hold the football tournament may have a significantly greater impact than more economic sanctions, said Michael Fuchs, deputy head of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc in the German parliament.

"The FIFA football association should think about whether Moscow is an appropriate host if it can't even guarantee safe airways," Fuchs told Handelsblatt Online, adding that Germany and France could take over the tournament if needed.

It would be unprecedented for the football world to deprive a country of hosting the World Cup once it has been awarded. Russia was selected in 2010 to host the event.

But Peter Beuth, interior minister of the state of Hesse, told Bild that staging the World Cup in Russia in 2018 would be "unimaginable" if Russian President Vladimir Putin did not actively cooperate with the crash investigation.

Withdrawing the World Cup from Russia "should not be taboo", said Stephan Mayer, a member of Bavaria's conservative Christian Social Union (CSU).

Germany's DFB football federation President Wolfgang Niersbach said Germany, which won the World Cup in Brazil this month, had very good relations with the Russian football association and the World Cup organisation committee.

"But we are watching with very great concern political events in Russia which could not be predicted at the time of the awarding of the World Cup in 2010," he added in a statement which stopped short of backing Russia's right to host.

‘Peaceful cooperation’

FIFA said earlier this week it could not comment. Germany's FIFA executive committee member, Theo Zwanziger, played down the possibility of moving the tournament.

"The World Cup has been awarded to Russia, contracts have been signed and rights issued," Zwanziger told Handelsblatt.

He also rejected any calls for a boycott.

"A boycott in sport only rarely yields results and therefore I don't think much of such suggestions," Zwanziger told Handelsblatt, adding that Fuchs' comments sounded populistic.

"Sport must go places even if it is painful. Only then can it stand up for its values and convictions such as tolerance, fairness and peaceful cooperation," said Zwanziger.

Several Western nations, including the United States, boycotted the Moscow Olympic Games in 1980, in protest against the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan.

Russia hosted the Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi in February shortly before relations between Western nations and Russia deteriorated sharply due to the Ukraine crisis. Trade groups in Germany have said new EU sanctions could hurt business between Russia and Europe's biggest economy.

The Malaysian plane had been flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down near Donetsk, a stronghold of pro-Russian rebels.

In the Netherlands, where many of the passengers came from, the Dutch football association said it was too early to review Russia's hosting of the 2018 World Cup.

"The association believes it is more appropriate to conduct a discussion over a future World Cup in Russia at a later moment, once the investigation into the disaster has been completed," it said in a statement.

England's football association chairman also said on 22 July it was premature to talk of moving the World Cup from Russia.


Dmitry Navosha, editor-in-chief of, a prominent Russian sports news website, is quoted as saying by The Moscow Times:

"If more sanctions are imposed on Russia, if relations with the West do not improve, then the worst thing that could happen is that the tournament will be moved to another country. […] "If things calm down, I think everything will be fine with Russia as a host."



Joe Thorpe's picture

Instead of Germany cynically suggesting themselves to run the 2018 Football world cup with France to boost their economy why not pick a safe country with no axe to grind with a pleasant winter climate like Australia? If it was in the southern hemisphere it wont be scorching hot like many European countries in June & July. Australia is safe politically its has fantastic tourism infrastructure & plenty to keep supporters occupied when games aren't actually taking place & as it will be their winter time there will be plenty of accommodation for every budget. Australia also has some of the best immigration controls in the world so we would be fairly sure that those coming & going would be well screened not just on arrival but also when travelling between venues as this invariably will be by air so passengers possessions will be screened again & again & the security will know who came & went & when.

an european's picture

Agree with you !
Yes Australia ...or why not give a little try North Korea ..maybe Kim Jung Un would be glad playng against it's team governed by the DPR Korea Football Association as well to open widely the door for the World ....

an european's picture

" if Russian President Vladimir Putin did not actively cooperate with the crash investigation"

Noo.. What about the very fast Crimea crash annexation?

Zwanziger or Schwanz-iger is money paranoiash only ! And FIFA?

"Sport must go places even if it is painful. Only then can it stand up for its values"

"Even if it's painfull" !!!! Of course that Russians nsurgents or Ukrainians Pro-Russians shot down a plane with not only a lot of of hollandese E.U. citizens aboard as IF that isn't painful enough to understand !

And If Football is only money after all - even if it's painfull - including the lack of human respect & dignity whatever it costs ..then i'm sorry for this kind of football philosofy !
Maybe it could be possible that FiFA won't complete it's human lack World CUP because of missing european teams !

Even in 2018 World Cup the "MH17 shot down" won't be "dis-remember" so easy as long the Pro-Russian separatists continues in Ukraine targeting planes one after one !

The more long the war continues the lesser it will be to forgive !

Jay's picture

Don't tell me the world's foremost spy apparatus hasn't any photos of the MH17 shoot down. That they haven't released them (as Russia has) and instead have waged information warfare. The dog-not-barking question on the catastrophe over Ukraine is: what did the U.S. surveillance satellite imagery show? It’s hard to believe that with the attention that U.S. intelligence has concentrated on eastern Ukraine for the past half year that the alleged trucking of several large Buk anti-aircraft missile systems from Russia to Ukraine and then back to Russia didn’t show up somewhere.

Very very expensive to travel to Australia and everything there is hazardous to your health.