Putin and the "decisive target"
Russian President Vladimir Putin always scores the "decisive target" in sports and this is how.
A few days ago, FIFA President Gianni Infantino attended the Belgium-Finland match in Saint Petersburg, Russia, as part of the European Football Championship.
But before he attended the match, Infantino visited Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Thus, Infantino was a guest of Putin in the Kremlin, and they talked about some aspects of football and recalled the World Cup in Russia 2018, where Infantino praised the Russian President and that tournament.
Of course, Infantino knows Putin's position well and his influential role in Russia's acquisition of the rights to host that World Cup, as well as his role in the success of that tournament with distinction, as Infantino was a permanent guest of the Kremlin during the preparations for the launch of the World Cup in Russia.
In that period, we saw Putin kicking the ball in the Kremlin, visiting the stadiums, embracing the Brazilian legends Pele and the late Diego Maradona while they were in Russia.
The success of the World Cup was a success for Putin
Russia and its people are proud of the success, and it is also a victory specifically against a campaign that England and its newspaper channeled against Moscow, which launched after Russia obtained the right to host the World Cup.
The same thing happened in the activist movement that affected Russian athletes years ago, which led to Russia’s exclusion from the 2016 Olympics in Rio and its participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics under the Olympic flag. The situation remains in the Tokyo Olympics next month under the Russian Olympic Committee, which will not raise the Russian flag or play the Russian anthem, noting that Russia is one of the more extraordinary powers in the Olympics.
In almost all countries, athletes are exposed to doping and are both punished and suspended from competitions.
According to a report by Canadian Richard McClaren of the World Anti-Doping Agency, concerning what happened with Russia, things took another turn, as it was clear that there is a systematic campaign targeting Russia and Putin's image. The report stated that there was a "system of doping involving state institutions in Russia".
Putin did not stand idly by. He called for the punishment of any athlete who used doping and to confront it, accusing the United States of fabricating the doping issue to influence the Russian presidential elections in 2018. He was a candidate and won.
"In response to our alleged interference in their (former US President Donald Trump) elections, they want to create problems in the Russian presidential elections," Putin said at the time.
We can also say conclude that in every sporting tournament, Russia is targeted politically. For example, this happened in the current European Cup through the Ukraine national team shirt, which included a map of Ukraine, including Crimea, which came under Russian sovereignty in 2014 by a popular referendum, with two slogans associated in Russia with the Ukrainian extremist right: “Glory to Ukraine” and “Glory to the heroes.”
Again, Putin did not stand idly by. He commented on Ukrainians' move: "They despise the people's will of the Crimeans."
Thus, Russia always finds itself in the circle of targets in the sports field and in any significant sports tournament for political dimensions and influences its image and status. But always, Putin says his decisive word, scoring "the decisive goal."