Israel has been handed an unlikely World Cup lifeline after American senators wrote to FIFA president Sepp Blatter, urging him to suspend Russia from this summer’s tournament as punishment for its takeover of Crimea.
Mark Kirk and Dan Coates sent a letter to football’s governing body saying: “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.”
Should the Russians be kicked-out of the tournament, Israel could take their place having finished behind them in third spot in their World Cup qualifying group.
A FIFA spokesperson confirmed to the Jewish News they had received the letter, though as of yet had not “had such considerations.”
A spokesperson for the Israeli Football Association told the Jewish News: “FIFA have not contacted us regarding this topic [but] If there will be any development we will act as needed in all aspects”.
A precedent was set when Yugoslavia were banned from competing at the 1992 European Championships during the Balkan crisis. They were replaced by the tournament’s eventual winners Denmark.