Fifa stands by Russia to host World Cup 2018

Football's governing body has expressed concern over the fighting in eastern Ukraine but has no plans to strip the nation of its hosting rights
Fifa has reiterated its desire to stage World Cup 2018 in Russia, claiming it will be a "force for good" for the under-fire nation.

Russia’s status as host of football’s showpiece event has been called into question due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

The fighting between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukraine government was given global prominence this month when a Malaysian Airlines jet was shot out of the sky, killing all 298 people on board.

Moscow has vehemently denied arming the rebels but the incident has been met with a wave of condemnation towards Russia and president Vladimir Putin.

Despite the controversy that it is supporting a nation being condemned in many quarters, Fifa insist the World Cup can be a catalyst for peace and insists it will not consider changing the 2018 host nation from Russia.

"As a world governing body of football Fifa takes its responsibility in governing football seriously and we support any peaceful and democratic debate," the world football governing body stated. "Fifa deplores any form of violence and will continue to use its tournaments to promote dialogue, understanding and peace among peoples.

"History has shown so far that boycotting sport events or a policy of isolation or confrontation are not the most effective ways to solve problems.

"The hosting of the World Cup with the global attention it attracts can be a powerful catalyst for constructive dialogue between people and governments, helping to bring positive social developments. The World Cup unites teams and nations from all over the world, from the qualifiers to the final competition in a spirit of fair play and respect.

"Fifa is convinced that, through football, particularly the World Cup and its international spotlight, we can achieve positive change in the world, but football cannot be seen as a solution for all issues, particularly those related to world politics.

"We have seen that the World Cup can be a force for good and Fifa believes this will be the case for the 2018 World Cup in Russia."

The majority of the victims on flight MH17 were Dutch and Netherlands football association (KNVB) has said it will not discuss Russia 2018 until a period of mourning has been observed.

A group of German politicians from chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling party have also called into question Russia’s suitability to host the event.