FIFA president Sepp Blatter: Russia World Cup not in doubt
FIFA president Sepp Blatter insists Russia's status as 2018 World Cup hosts is not under discussion as leading football figures attend a summit in Austria this week.
The ongoing crisis in the Ukraine has already led to European Union sanctions against Russian officials and Russia's financial and arms industry, and EU nations are also considering sporting sanctions, although it appears there are no current plans to target the World Cup.
Blatter has met with a number of influential football figures including Franz Beckenbauer and German FA (DFB) president Wolfgang Niersbach at the "Camp Beckenbauer" summit this week in Kitzbuhel, Austria, which has been likened to the World Economic Forum (WEF) by the German edition of the Wall Street Journal.
However, the FIFA president told the German newswire dpa that they were "not casting doubts on the Russia World Cup."
Niersbach added at a news conference: "Trying to influence politics through sport has failed. Nobody has uttered the word 'boycott,' and politicians don't expect us to either."
The 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow had seen 65 countries, including the United States, Japan, West Germany and China, refuse to take part in response to the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan the previous year. In 1984, more than 14 countries -- led by the Soviet Union -- boycotted the Olympics in Los Angeles.
"The boycott in 1980 was pointless," Niersbach said. "It only hurt the athletes."
There have also been serious questions raised over 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar. The competition will likely have to be rescheduled due to temperatures in the Gulf state, while organisations including the United Nations have expressed concern over the abuse of migrant workers.
However, Blatter said: "We are in a situation to pass a vote of confidence in the organisers of both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. We are currently waiting for the Ethics Committee report [into Qatar]."