[SPORTS★★ – SHOULD RUSSIA LOSE THE WORLD CUP?]
(P1) Zbigniew Boniek, the chairman of the Polish football association, has said Russia should be stripped of hosting the 2018 World Cup because of the conflict with Ukraine.
(P2) “Hosting the World Cup in Russia is a disastrous mistake, it’s a country engaged in war, who invaded another country,” the former midfielder said in the RUN-UP to next week’s FIFA congress.
(P3) “In 2010 when FIFA chose Russia to host the World Cup the situation was totally different. But now when Russia is at war with Ukraine? There should be a CLAUSE in the contract between FIFA and the host country that enables the executive committee to strip that country in the event of a war. Or violating the charter of the United Nations,” Boniek said.
(P4) Russia was awarded the 2018 World Cup ahead of England and joint bids from Spain/Portugal and Netherlands/Belgium in December 2010. Since then, criticism has built over racist behaviors within Russia’s stadiums, and the country’s STANCE on gay rights.
(P5) The latter prompted LA Galaxy’s Robbie Rogers to say FIFA was “insane” to take the tournament to Russia and Qatar, two countries that have poor records on gay rights.
(P6) A report from a European ANTI-DISCRIMINATION network found over 200 incidents of racism within Russian domestic football over two years, prompting FIFA to say it was “concerned.”
(P7) The situation in Ukraine has also placed added focus on the decision to award the tournament to Russia. In July last year, British Member of Parliament Tracey Crouch called for Russia to be stripped of the tournament.
(P8) “I think Russia ought to be stripped now,” she said. “There’s so much political uncertainty. Football could be used to put pressure on president Putin to change some of his practices. Russia was seemingly a democratic country when they won the bid. There are now SANCTIONS against the country.”
(P9) The FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, met Vladimir Putin in Sochi last month and expressed his continued support for the 2018 World Cup. “Some people are wanting the World Cup to be taken away from Russia, but we will give one answer to this – we are involved in football and we will not allow politics to get in the way,” he said.
(P10) “Everything is going to plan and nothing will get in the way of Russia hosting the best ever World Cup.”
(P11) Boniek said he was unlikely to attend the qualifying draw in St Petersburg on 25 July, given his strong views over stripping Russia of the tournament.
(P12) “Should I pretend that nothing is happening, that everything is fine? Should I attend and listen to the music like there’s no war? I feel uncomfortable so I’m thinking of going to Sardinia for holidays at the time,” he said.
(P13) “I could possibly officially ask whether FIFA feels comfortable staging its biggest tournament in a country that is at war with Ukraine,” Boniek said. “But what will I gain asking that? Some papers will do interviews with me and that’s it. Does anyone really think FIFA would strip Russia of the World Cup?”
If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.
- Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
- Can international sports such as the Olympics and the World Cup ever really be separated from politics?
- Why do Zbigniew Boniek and Tracey Crouch believe that Russia should be stripped of the 2018 World Cup?
- Is it likely that Russia actually will be stripped of the 2018 World Cup?
- Is the World Cup a major focus of sports interest in your country?
EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:
What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.