(WFI) Amid mounting criticism of Russia over the MH17 plane tragedy and
conflict with Ukraine, FIFA rejects calls for the country to be stripped of
2018 World Cup hosting rights and says a boycott is no solution to the crisis.

Several prominent Germany politicians this week said Russia should be dropped as hosts, although the German government dismissed the calls from allies of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Dutch FA was also under pressure to boycott Russia 2018 in the aftermath of the Malaysian Airlines crash in which 193 Dutch nationals were killed. But the KNVB said it was too premature to consider such a move – for the time being.

FIFA issued a statement on Friday saying it supported “any peaceful and democratic debate” around Russia 2018.

“FIFA deplores any form of violence and will continue to use its tournaments to promote dialogue, understanding and peace among peoples,” it said.

“History has shown so far that boycotting sport events or a policy of isolation or confrontation are not the most effective ways to solve problems.”

The statement added: “The hosting of the FIFA World Cup with the global attention it attracts can be a powerful catalyst for constructive dialogue between people and governments, helping to bring positive social developments.

“The FIFA World Cup unites teams and nations from all over the world, from the qualifiers to the final competition in a spirit of fair play and respect.”

World football’s governing body said it was “convinced that, through football, particularly the FIFA World Cup and its international spotlight, we can achieve positive change in the world, but football cannot be seen as a solution for all issues, particularly those related to world politics.

“We have seen that the FIFA World Cup can be a force for good and FIFA believes this will be the case for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.”

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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