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Not playing ball: sport sanctions will hurt Putin more than ...

World

Not playing ball: sport sanctions will hurt Putin more than political ones

The Russian president has long used sporting events to massage his ego and gloss over his misrule

Bobby Ghosh

Whatever the outcome of Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine, there is one theatre in which the Russian president is already losing: sports.

Uefa, European soccer’s governing body, has withdrawn its marquee event, the final of the Champions League on May 28, from St Petersburg — Putin’s hometown — and instead will stage it in Paris. Formula One has cancelled the September 25 Russian Grand Prix, and may hold the race in Istanbul. (And in a somewhat different arena, Russia has been ejected from the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest.)

Pressure is now building on Fifa, soccer’s international administrator, to expel Russia from the 2022 World Cup. Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic have announced they won’t send teams to play scheduled qualification matches in Moscow. Fifa president Gianni Infantino, who has a history of fawning over Putin, has decried Russia’s “use of force” in Ukraine and has expressed hope for a “rapid cessation of hostilities”...

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