US Senator facing corruption charges implores FIFA to dismiss Russia as World Cup host

US Senator facing corruption charges implores FIFA to dismiss Russia as World Cup host
US senator Bob Menendez, currently on trial for bribery in his home country, has urged FIFA to strip Russia of its right to host the 2018 World Cup, accusing the country of exploiting North Korean workers.

Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, together with eight other senators, implored FIFA to launch an investigation into allegations that workers from North Korea are being exploited at a 2018 World Cup stadium site.

The letter, published partly on Menendez’s personal website Wednesday, follows reports by American NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) stating that workers building stadiums ahead of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and 2018 World Cup in Russia “face exploitation and labor abuses.”

“As an organization with the capacity to affect the lives of billions of fans, athletes, and workers around the world, FIFA must live up to its commitments on human rights,” reads the letter.

“Protecting workers and athletes from forced labor must be a key element of those commitments. If FIFA fails to take action against Russia and North Korea, it will be perceived as tolerating these countries’ heinous practices. The world’s premier sporting event must not be built on the backs of the world’s most vulnerable people."

However, Menendez himself is currently facing corruption charges in the US, having been accused of accepting bribes from a Florida businessman in the form of luxury travel and contributions to political committees that helped him win reelection in 2012.

In exchange, Menendez is accused of using his influence to boost the business interests of his benefactor who was convicted of 67 counts of fraud in April.

The FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 will be held in 12 stadiums across 11 host cities from June 14 to July 15 next summer.