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China Backs Putin on FIFA, Slams US

This article originally appeared at The BRICS Post

An editorial in China’s state-run Xinhua on Saturday accused the US of pursuing “geopolitical objectives” in disguise of a probe into corruption in football’s top governing body, FIFA.

<figcaption>Президент ФИФА Зепп Блаттер (на переднем плане) принимает поздравления с переизбранием. Цюрих, Швейцария, 29 мая 2015 | Photo: Xinhua</figcaption>
Президент ФИФА Зепп Блаттер (на переднем плане) принимает поздравления с переизбранием. Цюрих, Швейцария, 29 мая 2015 | Photo: Xinhua

In growing signs of an entente between Russia and China, portions of the Chinese editorial have said the US is “killing two birds with one stone” by trying to “act like a hero” and wrecking Russia and Qatar’s hosting of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup.

Beijing is allying with Russian President Vladimir Putin who has accused the US of using the corruption probe to try to block the re-election of FIFA chief Sepp Blatter for resisting attempts to remove Russia’s right to host the 2018 World Cup.

“We must not neglect the political background, the “coincidence”, the timing, and the basic logic of the US-led action on FIFA. After all, the U.S.-Russian relations have fallen to a post-Cold War low following their conflicts in Crimea and in eastern Ukraine, and considering the U.S. also has possible interests if 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting nations change due to the scandal of FIFA, one can not rule out that US may capitalize on the anti-corruption against FIFA as a plan to “kill two birds with one stone”: berating Russia ideologically on the World Cup Russia 2018 in the next three years, and making considerable profits from a possible change of World Cup hosting nation, and at least, to revenge their defeat by Qatar in the 2022 World Cup bidding,” said the Xinhua editorial.

The desert nation of Qatar beat out the United States as the 2022 World Cup host in a humiliating setback for the US Soccer Federation, which spent millions of dollars on its bid and brought over former President Bill Clinton for its closing presentation in 2010.

The dividing line on FIFA chief Sepp Blatter is similar to that of the recent Victory Day parade in Russia, said the Xinhua editorial.

“Associations from developing countries and regions of Africa, Asia, and South America mainly supported Blatter, while those of developed nations and regions like Europe mostly stand by Blatter’s rival,” it noted.

Sepp Blatter was re-elected FIFA president on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Chinese editorial also noted that since the “U.S. has incentives and possible interests in taking over Qatar to host the 2022 showpiece event” a joint probe group needs to be formed with members from different nations and regions.

Xinhua is the official organ of the ruling Chinese Communist Party. Editorials of state-owned media in China generally reflects the Communist Party viewpoint.

Swiss prosecutors said on Wednesday that they had uncovered “irregularities” in the selection of Russia and Qatar as host countries of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments as the US indicted top FIFA officials over an alleged 24-year scheme involving $150 million in bribes from sports marketing executives.

Russian President Putin had, on Wednesday, lashed out at Washington saying the US inquiry into FIFA is “yet another clear attempt to extend its jurisdiction into other countries”.

Xinhua also dismissed the US probe as “purposeful and selective anti-corruption with US interests at stake”.

“The unprecedented U.S.-led action has problems in jurisdiction and sends out a dangerous signal of taking judicial actions directly on an international organization by just one or two nations. FIFA is an international sports organization, which is not suitable for unilateral actions. If U.S. set an example, other international organizations face similar situations in the future,” it warned.

The editorial also cautioned that if the West re-issues a boycott appeal against the 2018 Football World Cup in Russia like it did during the Moscow Olympics in 1980, it “will hurt the sport to a great extent”.

Russia is spending 665 billion rubles (around $13 billion) on preparations to stage the World Cup for the first time.

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