U.S. senators urge FIFA not to let Russia host World Cup 2018

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A group of U.S. senators has written to the international soccer association FIFA, urging it to consider removing Russia as host of the 2018 FIFA World Cup because of its role in the Ukraine crisis and occupation of Crimea. In a letter dated Tuesday and released on Wednesday, the 13 Democratic and Republican U.S. lawmakers said they "strongly encourage" the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) to move the global competition. "Allowing Russia to host the FIFA World Cup inappropriately bolsters the prestige of the (Russian President Vladimir) Putin regime at a time when it should be condemned and provides economic relief at a time when much of the international community is imposing economic sanctions," the senators wrote to FIFA President Sepp Blatter. The lead signers were Senator Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Ron Johnson, the Republican chairman of the foreign relations panel's Europe subcommittee. Republican Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also signed the letter, as did Senator Richard Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate. A copy of the letter was also sent to the U.S. Soccer Federation. (Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Bernadette Baum)