Deeper Isolation For Russia Amid FIFA Scandal

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The independent chairman of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee does not rule out the possibility of taking away the 2018 World Cup from Russia and the 2022 World Cup from Qatar.

“If evidence should emerge that the awards to Qatar and Russia only came about thanks to bought votes then the awards could be invalidated,” Domenico Scala, who is responsible for overseeing FIFA during the current crisis, told the Swiss newspaper Sonntags Zeitung.

“This evidence has not yet been brought forth,” he added.

Scala made similar statements back in 2013, however his words started to attract attention only in light of the events of the past two weeks.

On May 27, Swiss police complied with the US request to arrest nine senior officials at FIFA, football’s governing association, as part of an investigation of alleged bribe-taking and backstage agreements.

Russian officials responded to the arrests saying they see a US conspiracy behind the whole corruption scandal. It became suspicious to the Russians that the US, a country so distant from soccer, has initiated the investigation now.

FIFA’s corruption evidences: Will they lead to Russia?

Over the last two weeks, evidence has emerged that proves that the former FIFA vice president Jack Warner used a $10 million payment from FIFA for money laundering, personal loans and credit card payments.

Furthermore, BBC presented new evidences that show that the 2008 payments from FIFA were transferred in Warner’s accounts, who was president of CONCACAF for 21 years until he was suspended in 2011, and stepped down a year after that.

There were also documents that prove that FIFA’s $360,000 was transferred to people close to Warner.

According to the BBC, Warner used about $1.6 million to pay for his credit cards and personal loans. One of his loans was as much as $410,000.

The evidences mentioned above forced the FIFA President Sepp Blatter to step down from his position. It was always believed that if Blatter had managed to hold on to his seat, the chances there would be a re-vote to select the hosts for the two upcoming World Cups were extremely low.

FIFA drowns in its own lies

Blatter’s assistant and right hand, Jérôme Valcke, is believed to have been informed about the payments to Warner in his personal letters with the World Cup organizer Danny Jordaan and the South African Football Association.

It must be pointed out that FIFA had earlier stated that “Neither the secretary general Jérôme Valcke nor any other member of Fifa’s senior management were involved in the initiation, approval and implementation of the project.”

Well, it seems that FIFA is entangled in its own lies now. Will these lies drag Russia and Qatar down as well?

On December 2 2010, Russia was chosen as the location for the 2018 World Cup, beating out England, a joint bid by Belgium and the Netherlands, and another joint bid by Spain and Portugal.

It must be pointed out that there were precedents when a World Cup host refused the right to host the tournament (Columbia in 1986). However, no World Cup host has ever been removed from hosting.

UK’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Philip Hammond said that England would not participate in a possible race for getting the right to hold the 2022 World Cup in case Qatar is proven to have gotten its right through bribery.

However, Mr. Hammond did not say anything about the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Further isolation of Russia: Putin doesn’t care?

If Russia is indeed removed from hosting the 2018 World Cup, it would mean that the West further isolates Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime.

It turns out that Russia does not fear isolation and is eager to seek ways to isolate itself ‘from the world’ through its own policies and legislations.

Last month, Vladimir Putin signed a decree that allowed to ban ‘foreign or international non-governmental organizations’ from operating in Russia.

Such organizations can be easily deemed ‘undesirable’ if they are considered “a threat to Russia’s constitutional order, defense and security.”

The decree bans the so-called non-governmental organizations to create its departments on Russia’s territory, spread any information materials and produce its products in Russia.

According to the decree, the prosecutors and his deputies with the approval of Russia’s Foreign Ministry, not the court, are granted the authority to deem a foreign or international non-governmental organization ‘undesirable’.

Employees that work in such ‘undesirable for Russia’ non-governmental organizations will be punished by fines or jail terms up to 6 years.

Will Russia ban Transparency International, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International?

People opposed to Putin’s regime say that such a move will be aimed at suppressing political opposition in Russia.

However, the term ‘undesirable organization’ can be interpreted in different ways. The decree emphasizes that such organizations poses a threat to Russia’s national security.

Amnesty International, a non-governmental organization focused on human rights, claimed that such a decree deprives Russian community from existence. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights, warned that Russian citizens would be the ones to suffer from the decree, not the foreign organizations.

Carnegie Trust is most likely to be affected by the decree as well as a non-governmental international organization that fights corruption Transparency International and such human rights organizations as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

European Union leaders immediately expressed their concern over the decree about ‘undesirable organizations’.

According to the official EU report, Russia’s decree about ‘undesirable organizations’ is a yet another “disturbing move” toward derogation of rights of civil society, independent media and political opposition in Russia.

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