WASHINGTON – Bob Menendez wants to show Russia a red card.
With a potential indictment on corruption charges looming as early as Wednesday afternoon, the New Jersey Democrat led a letter signed by 13 senators – including Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) -- urging soccer's world governing body to move the 2018 World Cup out of Russia as punishment for that country's aggression in Ukraine.
The letter was sent to Sepp Blatter, president of FIFA, which oversees the event.
"Allowing Russia to host the FIFA World Cup inappropriately bolsters the prestige of the Putin regime at a time when it should be condemned and provides economic relief at a time when much of the international community is imposing economic sanctions," reads the letter, led by Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate foreign relations committee.
Its release Wednesday, with federal criminal charges against Menendez expected any day - and potentially within hours -- reflect the senator's determination to show a business-as-usual approach amid his insistence that he has done nothing wrong.
Toomey, in his own release, described Russian President Vladimir Putin as "an authoritarian dictator who has crushed democracy in Russia" while leading a hostile occupation of another country.
"The FIFA World Cup is viewed and celebrated by billions worldwide and often serves as a showcase for the host nation. Allowing Russia to host this great event in 2018 is akin to rewarding a child for bad behavior," Toomey said in a news release.
Last year, Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) called for moving the 2022 World Cup out of Qatar and to the United States due to reports of dangerous labor abuses.