Sen. Coats uses soccer as diplomacy tool 

click to enlarge Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., suggested in a letter sent to FIFA on Friday that Russia's membership be suspended — and the team be banned from the World Cup — until the nation can respect Ukraine sovereignty. - COURTESY OF FIFA
  • Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., suggested in a letter sent to FIFA on Friday that Russia's membership be suspended — and the team be banned from the World Cup — until the nation can respect Ukraine sovereignty.
  • Courtesy of FIFA

U.S. Senator Dan Coats, R-Ind., on Friday joined Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., in sending a letter to Joseph S. Blatter, the president of Fédération Internationale de Football Association, commonly known as FIFA, the world soccer governing body, asking for help in pressuring Russia to respect Ukraine sovereignty.

"Senator Coats believes there are a number of steps that should be taken to isolate Russia," the senator's spokesman, Matt Lahr, emailed in response to NUVO's question about how this particular approach to international relations came about. "Though largely symbolic, this step would impact an important part of Russia's national prestige - involvement in international sports."

Lahr also noted that Coats joined with Sen. Dick Durbin, R-Ill., on Tuesday to author a resolution "supporting the territorial integrity of Ukraine and condemning recent Russian military aggression."

Coats played soccer for Wheaton College in the '60s. Here is what he and Kirk wrote to FIFA.:

March 7, 2014

Joseph S. Blatter
President, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)
FIFA-Strasse 20
P.O. Box
CH-8044 Zurich

Dear Mr. Blatter:

In light of Russia's military occupation of a sovereign Ukraine, we respectfully ask that you urgently convene an emergency session of FIFA to consider suspending Russia's membership in FIFA, stripping Russia of the right to host the 2018 World Cup, and denying the Russian National Team the right to participate in the upcoming 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

According to Article 3 of the FIFA Statutes: "[d]iscrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people on account of ethnic origin, gender, language, religion, politics or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion."

As you know, there is ample precedent for suspending or expelling a FIFA member, such as when FIFA denied the then-Yugoslavia the right to participate in both the 1992 European Championship and the 1994 World Cup.

Since Russia has similarly displayed a brazen disrespect for fundamental principles of FIFA and international law, I hope you will agree that it does not deserve the honor of either hosting the World Cup or participating in one. We ask that a more deserving World Cup 2018 bid should be re-considered instead.

We look forward to your timely action on this matter.


Senator Mark Kirk

Senator Dan Coats

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