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Boycott of Russia's 2018 World Cup discussed by EU: sources

If the crisis in Ukraine escalates, the tournament may be hit.

Image: Nick Potts

EU NATIONS HAVE discussed a possible boycott of the 2018 football World Cup in Russia if the crisis in Ukraine escalates, a European source said today.

The suggestion came in a document detailing options for economic sanctions due to be decided on by Friday, but as a longer term measure and not an immediate step, the source said.

Leaders of the 28-nation EU on Saturday asked the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, to draw up new sanctions within a week in response to claims that Russia has sent troops into neighbouring Ukraine.

The World Cup boycott idea was in a “working document discussed by the member states,” the source said on condition of anonymity. “But as a possibility for later on, not now.”

The paper was circulated to national diplomats this week before member states take a decision on what sanctions to impose.

The Financial Times quoted the document as saying that in addition to economic sanctions “thought could also be given to taking coordinated action within the G7 and beyond to recommend suspension of Russian participation in high-profile international cultural, economic or sports events (Formula 1 races, UEFA football competitions, 2018 World Cup, etc).”

Russia is also staging the world swimming championships next year.

Some British and German politicians called for Russia to be stripped of the World Cup in July, following the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine, allegedly by a missile fired by pro-Moscow rebels.

The new sanctions being considered by the EU are expected to build on four areas targeted by the last round of sanctions, European Commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde said Wednesday.

The EU limited Russian access to European capital markets, imposed an embargo on arms and on “dual use” materials with possible military and civilian uses, and limited the sale of technology for the oil sector.

© AFP 2014

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