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Russia may lose 2018 World Cup only by refusal or disqualification — expert

July 28, 2014, 20:37 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Earlier this year, US Republican Senators Mark Kirk (Illinois) and Dan Coats (Indiana) sent a letter to FIFA President Joseph Blatter, urging him to suspend Russia’s membership in FIFA
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Vyacheslav Koloskov

Vyacheslav Koloskov

© EPA/FRANCK ROBICHON

MOSCOW, July 28. /ITAR-TASS/. Western politicians’ calls for taking the 2018 FIFA World Cup away from Russia are groundless as the country can lose the right to host it only if it refuses to do so itself or if it is disqualified, a football expert said on Monday.

Vyacheslav Koloskov, the honorary president of the Russian Football Union (RFU) and former FIFA vice-president, told ITAR-TASS that there were no reasons to expect Moscow to give up its obligations to host the World Cup or FIFA to disqualify the RFU.

Earlier this year, US Republican Senators Mark Kirk (Illinois) and Dan Coats (Indiana) sent a letter to FIFA President Joseph Blatter, urging him to suspend Russia’s membership in the organization and forbid it to host the 2018 World Cup. British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg supported their call.

“There is no provision in the FIFA Statutes that would allow a country to be deprived of the right to host a football championship. FIFA has several ways to punish federations: a warning, temporary expulsion and final expulsion from the organization. With any form of expulsion a federation loses the right to participate in and organize international competitions, but this is not threatening the RFU. We do not violate the FIFA regulations and we certainly do not discredit the organization by any means. On the contrary, we maintain good relations with it,” Kolskov said.

The only time FIFA had to change the World Cup venue was in 1986. In June 1974, FIFA awarded the right to host the championship to Colombia but the latter could not meet FIFA requirements for financial reasons and in October 1982 President Belisario Betancur announced that his country could not play host to the international sport event.

It was then decided that it would all the same take place in America, with Canada, the United States, Brazil, and Mexico considered potential candidates. The latter was eventually selected as a replacement in May 1983 three years before the event.

Brazil withdrew from the competition and the US said it would instead be preparing for the next World Cup in 1994. The results of the voting were not made public, but Mexico easily outperformed Canada and the US, which had officially not dropped out of the race.

One of the main reasons why Mexico was selected is that it had already hosted a world football championship in 1970 and thus became the first Latin American country to hold this major international sport event twice. The 1986 World Cup was seriously jeopardized by a series of devastating earthquakes that occurred in September 1985 and killed almost 10,000 people in the capital city alone. The government had to spend about $2 billion to rebuild the infrastructure.

“If a country refuses [to host a championship], FIFA will agree as there is no other solution. Nevertheless, this is not the case with Russia. Our country bade for the championship eagerly and took such serious efforts not in order to give everything up at some point. On the contrary, we did that to show the whole world that Russia is a sport power and can host all kinds of international competitions. This has been borne out many times, including by the Olympic Games in Sochi where we started from scratch. After all, we already have some football infrastructure and there is absolutely no reason to give up the championship now,” Koloskov said.

FIFA World Cups are held every four years since 1930 and did not take place on time only on two occasions in 1942 and in 1946 because of World War II.

The 1942 World Cup was supposed to be held in Argentina but FIFA had cancelled all international competitions after the start of the war in 1939.

In 1946, it announced that the next World Cup would take place in 1950 in order to keep the four-year cycle and awarded it to Brazil.

The 2018 World Cup will be held from June 8 to July 8 at 12 stadiums in 11 Russian cities.

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