Israel Would Play in World Cup if Russia Suspended

Two U.S. senators urge FIFA to ban Russia from Brazil competition due to takeover of Crimea.

Niall McGinn of Northern Ireland and with Israel's Rami Gershon.
Niall McGinn of Northern Ireland, left, vies with Rami Gershon of Israel, right, during the FIFA 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match in Belfast, March 26, 2013. AFP

A proposal by two United States senators that Russia be suspended from participation in the World Cup in Brazil could have unintended consequences for Israel.

Having finished third in Group F in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, after
Russia and Portugal, Israel will take Russia's place if it is banned

Republican senators Mark Kirk and Dan Coates sent a letter to international soccer’s governing body FIFA last week, urging chairman Sepp Blatter to suspend Russia from the World Cup in Brazil as punishment for its takeover of Crimea.

“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,” the senators’ letter said.

According to Article 3 of the FIFA statutes, the letter said, “discrimination 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.”

On Friday, Blatter reiterated that Russia will host the 2018 World Cup, but did not comment on participation in the upcoming World Cup.

During the Balkan crisis, Yugoslavia was banned from playing in both the 1992 European Championship and the 1994 World Cup.

The United States and the European Union already have imposed economic sanctions against Russia following its occupation of Ukrainian military bases and other facilities.