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German government cool on calls for Russia to be stripped of 2018 World Cup over Ukraine

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BERLIN - The German government has responded coolly to calls from some members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's party for Russia to be stripped of the 2018 World Cup.

Peter Beuth, Hesse state's interior minister, told Wednesday's Bild daily that if President Vladimir Putin doesn't actively help investigate last week's Malaysia Airlines crash in Ukraine, the World Cup in Russia is "unthinkable." Senior lawmaker Michael Fuchs told daily Handelsblatt that "FIFA should consider whether Russia is a suitable World Cup country if it can't even guarantee safe flight paths."

Government spokesman Georg Streiter noted that the tournament is four years away. He said: "We have more pressing problems now than this."

FIFA says it's in contact with the Russian and Ukrainian football federations, and isn't "in a position to comment further."

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