• Graham Smith

Russia BANNED: Why FIFA's Actions Ring Hollow

FIFA's blind eye to atrocity only extends as far as Russia...

Today, after heavy pressure from European nations, FIFA and the UEFA jointly announced the removal of the Russian National team from the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers leading to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. This is notable as this is just the fourth time in its' history that FIFA will ban a nation for competing due to a humanitarian crisis. Previously FIFA banned Rhodesia in 1970 & South Africa in 1974 for their Apartheid policies and lastly Yugoslavia in 1992 for war crimes committed during the Balkan War in which 140,000 people ultimately died. So while Russia's bannishment is not unprecedented, it has been 30 years since FIFA has taken such action despite ample opportunities.


Look no further than the very host location of the 2022 World Cup, Qatar. The massively corrupt former president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, has even gone on record saying that Qatar never should've been awarded the games. Qatar has for decades now relied upon a slave labor force from South/Southeast Asia to maintain the lifestyle of its exorbinantly wealthy population. Preparation for hosting their World Cup, achieved through dubious means, has cost the lives of an estimated 6,500 foreign workers between 2010-2021. Current estimates on casualties, not fatalities, in Russia's invasion of Ukraine is in the low hundreds, so let's ask ourselves why Qatar is let off the hook while Russia is humiliated on the international stage? Politics.


Lest I be accused of whataboutism, no war is justified nor any loss of life acceptable so this is in no way a defense of Russia. Having said that, where has the moral righteousness of FIFA been when faced with overwhelming proof of literal genocide in nations like Myanmar, Iraq, Yemen, Ethiopia, China, North Korea, Phillipines, Sudan, South Sudan, Nigeria etc. If genocide is not the standard for suspension from FIFA then what is? Invasion of a sovereign nation's territory? If that were true where was FIFA during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, or even better, America's unilateral invasion of Iraq a deacade later? Even Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 didn't provoke a ban from FIFA. Russia hosted the World Cup four short years later. Suffice to say, FIFA has no standard for its actions. The glaring hypocrisy is obviously lost on them. FIFA's leadership remains in power thanks to votes from poor nations who are the beneiciaries of generous payouts from the Soccer organization. The West has been complicit in turning a blind eye to FIFA's scams with tin pot dictators, many of whom do commit genocide, yet suddenly care about humanitarian issues with Russia.


The blatant double-standards of FIFA are plain for all to see. Yes there are financial benefits for nations being allowed to compete and yes FIFA should punish corporate sponsors from belligerent nations. But athletes should be exempt from this sort of kneejerk reactionary position from FIFA. I say let Russia compete, not because I think they deserve it, but rather I think that we as western nations deserve a chance to defeat them on the pitch. The US recently celebrated the 42nd anniversary of "The Miracle on Ice" where the USA Hockey team defeated the Soviet Union in the Winter Olympics. The Soviet Union oversaw the deaths of upwards of 50 million citizens, and of course the IOC said nothing, but one of the Cold War's defining moments was our takedown of an ideological foe via sports. Let's afford Ukraine the same opportunity we had to take down their geopolitical rival. I hope that hostilities end and peace prevails in Ukraine; I also hope that FIFA will keep this same energy for the myriad atrocities nations are committing worldwide right now.



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