© Mikhail Klimentyev/Ria Novosti/Kremlin Pool/EPAFifa president Sepp Blatter, left, and Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller, right, exchange documents as Russian President Vladimir Putin and sports minister Vitaly Mutko applaud. Gazprom will sponsor the 2018 World Cup.
Two US senators have written to Fifa, the governing body of world football, to request that Russia be banned from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and stripped of the right to host the 2018 tournament, over its invasion of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.
The US and the European Union have imposed economic sanctions
on the government of President Vladimir Putin, in response to the occupation of Ukrainian military bases and transport and infrastructure facilities which began last week
.In their letter
to the Fifa chairman, Sepp Blatter, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Dan Coates of Indiana, both Republicans, cite the exclusion of Yugoslavia from the 1992 European Championship and 1994 World Cup and say: "Since Russia has similarly displayed a brazen disrespect for fundamental principles of Fifa and international law, [we] hope you will agree that it doesn't deserve the honour of either hosting the World Cup or participating in one.
"We ask that a more deserving World Cup 2018 bid should be re-considered instead."
The Russian sports minister, Vitaly Mutko
, a former president of the Russian football federation and chair of the local organising committee for the 2018 World Cup, is a Fifa board member.
The letter also cites Fifa statutes
calling for suspension if a country or people are discriminated against: "According to Article 3 of the Fifa statutes: 'discrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people on account of ethnic origin, gender, language, religion, politics or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.'"
In October, Fifa sought assurances
that Russia's football federation was taking steps to deal with racist incidents at matches in the country. The governing body said then that Russia's hosting of the 2018 tournament was not in jeopardy.
On Thursday, speaking to CNN
, Coates compared the Russian president's territorial ambitions to those of Nazi Germany, saying: "Does this not remind us of what happened with Hitler in the early 20s and 30s?"
Earlier this week, the former secretary of state and presumed leading Democratic presidential candidate for 2016, Hillary Clinton, also made reference to Hitler
when discussing the Russian invasion of the Crimea. The Press-Telegram of Long Beach quoted Clinton as saying: "Now if this sounds familiar, it's what Hitler did back in the 30s."
Russia was awarded the right to host the 2018 World Cup in December 2010
, beating competing bids from England, Holland and Belgium and Spain and Portugal.
In this year's World Cup, which kicks off in June, Russia have been drawn in Group H, alongside Belgium, Algeria and South Korea. The Russians, coached by Fabio Capello, qualified for the finals by winning their qualification group ahead of Portugal. Israel were the third-placed team.
Russia and the USA could meet in the round of 16. On Wednesday, the USA lost 2-0 in a friendly international against Ukraine
which was moved from Kharkiv to Cyprus.