FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said that Russia and Ukraine will be kept apart at the 2018 World Cup should the Ukrainians qualify for the tournament.
Blatter is aware of risk of the precarious political situation spilling over onto the pitch in the fashion of the distressing scenes that took place in the recent game between Serbia and Albania.
When asked if the two teams would be kept apart, Blatter replied: “You can be sure of this.”
But, hypothetically, what would happen if the two teams were eventually forced to play each other later in the tournament? It doesn’t seem like it’s entirely well thought out, but that’s FIFA.
The Swiss septuagenarian addressed calls for a boycott of the tournament: “A boycott never achieves anything and does not have a positive effect. Fifa is fully supporting the World Cup in Russia. When we received letters from north America, we answered that this is football. We believe in the country [Russia] and their government.
“The mass media should help us with this. We have experienced such things in the past at the Sochi Olympics. However, during and after the [Winter] Games there was not one bad word written about the event. Russia is the world’s biggest country. You know, Russia is in the focus of the world press. Football cannot only unite Russia, but can also show the whole world that it is stronger than any protest movement.”