Sens. John McCain and Robert Menendez want the world's governing soccer organization to fire its president and elect one who will take the World Cup away from Vladimir Putin's Russia.
FIFA, the organization that governs the World Cup, is holding leadership elections Friday, and President Sepp Blatter is expected to win a fifth term at the top. But McCain and Menendez are calling on the body's congress to pick a different leader, one who will undo the Blatter-led decision to award the 2018 tournament to Russia.
Russia's ongoing military aggression toward Ukraine, McCain and Menendez say, should disqualify it from hosting. "More than a year has passed since Russian troops and Russian-backed separatists began their dismemberment of Ukraine," the pair wrote Tuesday in a letter to members of FIFA's Congress. "By allowing Russia to host the tournament, FIFA would offer an economic lifeline to the Putin regime in contravention of the multilateral sanctions that have been imposed by the international community."
Russia is on something of a roll in winning bids for international sporting events, having hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi—which came just weeks before the military run on Ukraine.