Fifa, Russia World Cup relations straining
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Since: Sep 08
#1 Aug 19, 2014
Relations between Fifa and its next World Cup host, Russia, are under strain.
Two major issues have flared since July 13, when Russian state President Vladimir Putin sat next to Fifa President Sepp Blatter at the World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Control of Crimean football clubs and expensive new stadiums for Fifa's flagship tournament.
Attempts by the Russian football authorities to integrate three clubs from Crimea this season - without consent from Ukraine - have escalated tensions between the two countries' football federations, which were both members of Fifa and Uefa.
Though the game's world and European governing bodies have reason to at least warn the Russian Football Union of disciplinary action, neither has taken that step.
Blatter's view that the Putin-backed, US$20 billion (NZ$24b) World Cup project of 12 stadiums would be better with 10 met with a pushback on Tuesday from Vitaly Mutko, Russia's sports minister and an elected member of Fifa's executive committee - which was chaired by Blatter.
Top Russian clubs have even raised concern Uefa could be forced to suspend them from the Champions League and Europa League.
The shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet in eastern Ukraine last month, suspected to involve pro-Russian separatists, has fuelled calls from western politicians for Fifa to move the tournament elsewhere.
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