May 29, 2015

HEY, HE BRIBED ‘EM FAIR AND SQUARE: Putin Fumes over FIFA Arrests.

Vladimir Putin is loudly railing against the dramatic U.S. arrest of FIFA’s top officials in Zurich for massive corruption, using his favorite rhetorical tricks of reversing the narrative and demonizing America. . . .

One of the reasons Putin may be so exercised is that the whole affair could call the location of the 2018 tournament into question. Putin is a man who loves sports, and and it was a huge point of pride for him when he secured the rights to host last year’s Winter Olympics in, of all places, Sochi, the seaside southern resort town where he likes to summer. The games cost a record-smashing $51 billion dollars (with some critics estimating that embezzlement accounts for more than half of that figure). That victory was multiplied when Russia’s bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup in 13 cities, including Sochi, won out. The Russian Sports Minister told state media that Russia’s right to host the Cup was not in danger, but given the investigation into how the decisions to award the tournament to South Africa, Russia, and Qatar were made, there are good reasons to doubt that. . . .

There’s a second reason Putin might care about the FIFA arrests. His claim that the U.S. doesn’t have rightful jurisdiction because none of the alleged criminal activity is related to America is complete bunk and almost certainly an intentional misreading of how international criminal jurisdiction works (and that’s not to mention that the Russian president hasn’t exactly been leading by example on the issue of maintaining great respect for other countries’ inviolable territorial sovereignty). Recently, he trotted out the same invalid objection about the U.S. securing an extradition order for a Russian citizen accused of industrial espionage in Sweden. A world with more prosecution of corruption is a world that’s harder for Putin to operate in.

Yeah, you’d think he and Obama — and Hillary — would be on the same page there.

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