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Capello: Sport is outside politics
02:04 - Source: CNN

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Story highlights

Fabio Capello says Russia should not be banned from the 2014 World Cup

Two U.S. senators called for Russia to be kicked out of the tournament

Italian coach Capello says sport and politics should not mix

Russia's first game of the 2014 World Cup is against South Korea on June 17

CNN  — 

Russia’s annexation of Crimea should not affect the country’s sports teams, says Russian national football team coach Fabio Capello.

The Italian, who previously coached England, has dismissed calls for Russia to be kicked out of the upcoming World Cup in Brazil and for it to be stripped of the right to host the 2018 tournament.

When asked by CNN if he understands why people could choose to boycott a World Cup in Russia, Capello said: “I don’t understand why you would boycott the World Cup or other sport competitions.

“Sport is out of politics, for me. I don’t understand when someone boycotts a competition.”

Two U.S. senators recently wrote a letter to football’s global governing body FIFA calling for Russia to be expelled from the 2014 World Cup while also being stripped of its right to host the 2018 event.

Two Russian politicians responded by sending a letter of their own to FIFA demanding the U.S. be kicked out of Brazil 2014 for previous aggressive actions against Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya and recent action in Syria.

Read: Platini backs Russia’s right to play at World Cup

Political controversy – Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law and a $50 billion budget – also dominated the build-up to the recent Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

Russia topped the medal table with 13 gold medals; success which Capello says has ramped up the pressure on his players ahead of the World Cup – which begins on June 12.

“We are euphoric because a lot of medals go to Russia,” said Capello. “We are really proud of the results.

“But I’ve lived my career with pressure. I’ve managed really important teams and when you manage these teams you need to win – the pressure is every day.”

Russian president Vladimir Putin took a keen interest in the country’s performance at Sochi 2014 and he will surely be hoping for a strong showing from the hosts at the 2018 World Cup.

If Russia is to compete when it welcomes the world, Capello says it must work on developing a new generation of talented players to replace an aging squad.

“They need to prepare the under-21s, under-20s to find new players,” said the former AC Milan and Real Madrid coach. “I need to speak with the managers. We need to put some young players in the first team. This is the problem.

“We’ve got seven foreign players every game, and four Russian players. If one of the best players is injured, we lose a lot.

“But I always think positive, and I hope we will be the surprise in Brazil.”

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Read: Obama, EU united over Ukraine