The animosity brewing between Russia and the United States has extended into the sports world.
Alexander Sidyakin and Michael Markelov, two members of Russia’s Duma (parliament), have written an open letter to FIFA President Sepp Blatter asking him to expel the U.S. Soccer Federation from world soccer’s governing body and prevent the U.S. men’s national team from competing in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, according to ESPN.
In their March 11 letter, Sidyakin and Markelov claim the “U.S.’s military aggression against several sovereign states” (namely Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya and Syria) and “numerous cases of human rights violation all over the world revealed by E. Snowden,” are reason enough for FIFA to “urgently convene an emergency session to consider suspending U.S.’s membership in FIFA and denying the U.S. team the right to participate in the upcoming 2014 World Cup in Brazil.”
Citing Russian Russian website Newsru, ESPN reports the parliamentarians’ letter comes as “ball-for-ball” response to a petition circulated by U.S. senators Dan Coates and Mark Kirk, which asks FIFA to prohibit Russia from competing at the World Cup because of its military action in the Ukrainian region of Crimea.
“It’s an eye for an eye, a ball for a ball. Don’t the let the USA take part in the 2014 World Cup! End their membership of FIFA,” Sidyakin tweeted.
Александр Сидякин (@A_Sidyakin) March 11, 2014
It’s safe to say FIFA is unlikely to heed the request of Sidyakin and Markelov. The World Cup kicks off on June 12 with the U.S. in Group G and Russia in Group H. We can only hope the two teams progress out of their groups and meet in the knockout rounds, so they can settle their countries’ differences on the field — if only for one day.