Russia’s soccer show must go on.
FIFA announced Tuesday that Russia’s 2018 Winter Olympics ban won’t affect preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which will take place next summer in Russia. The International Olympic Committee suspended Russia on Tuesday over its massive, state-sponsored doping program, but its decision carries no weight with FIFA, a separate entity.
The IOC banned ex-Russia sports minister and current deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko from all future Olympics, but he’ll remain in charge of Russia’s World Cup organizing committee.
“FIFA has taken note of the decision made by the IOC regarding the participation of Russian athletes at the upcoming Winter Olympics,” world soccer’s governing body said in a statement, per Sky Sports. “This decision has no impact on the preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup as we continue to work to deliver the best possible event.”
FIFA insists doping won’t be an issue at the 2018 World Cup.
The statement read:
“As has already been communicated, when it comes to anti-doping measures, FIFA takes its responsibility very seriously.
“FIFA continues to take every measure at its competitions to ensure football remains free from doping.
“For the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 played in Russia, every participating player was tested in unannounced controls and further systematic tests were performed at every match. All results were negative.
“A similar protocol will be in place for next year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia, with the analysis of all doping samples to be carried out at WADA laboratories outside Russia.”
Despite the misgivings many have over Russian doping and Mutko’s participation, FIFA isn’t willing to change course just six-plus months before the World Cup kicks off.