FIFA Apologizes for Map Error Putting Crimea in Russia

Soccer’s governing body FIFA apologized after organizers of the 2018 World Cup in Russia displayed a map that showed Crimea as part of the host country.

Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula in March after the ouster of Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s former pro-Moscow president, in an uprising. The takeover prompted the U.S. and the European Union to impose sanctions on Russian individuals and companies.

FIFA said a Russian agency hired to help with the introduction of the official emblem for the 2018 World Cup was to blame for the map.

“Unfortunately the map of Russia selected and used during the projection by the local service provider escaped our attention and the short sequence in question has been removed,” FIFA said in an e-mailed statement.

Skirmishes remain a regular occurrence in eastern Ukraine, which has a large Russian-speaking population. FIFA President Sepp Blatter met with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week, and said efforts would be made to prevent a meeting between the hosts and Ukraine at the World Cup.

Blatter, who sat beside Putin at this year’s World Cup final in Brazil, rejected calls from EU and U.S. politicians for the tournament to be removed from Russia as punishment for its role in the Ukrainian conflict.

“When some politicians say that the World Cup in Russia should be boycotted, I say, on the contrary, we should invite everybody because we are connecting people,” Blatter said Oct. 28 in Moscow. “One can’t boycott football in general and it can’t be boycotted in Russia.”

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