Putin’s World Cup Miscalculation

Media pundits and geopolitical scholars have compared Putin’s World Cup to Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympics, asserting that the global spectacle of the World Cup is primarily a propaganda effort by Putin’s Russia.  Indeed, the Sochi Olympic Games were just held in 2014, and Putin sought to grandstand his nation through a deceitful athlete doping and cover-up scheme.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov even used the backdrop of Russia’s hosting of the World Cup to announce, in very Marxist logic, that it was the inevitable evolution (an “historic epoch”) for a “Post-West world order” to emerge.  Using sport for propaganda purposes is part of the Putin playbook.


Fancy Bear, the hacking group tied to Russian military intelligence, routinely pursues hacking tactics to embarrass the West, particularly its hacks of the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) and the US Anti-doping Agency (USADA) as retribution for their efforts to uphold the Purity of Sport in the aftermath of investigative findings about Russian doping out of Sochi.  Perhaps not coincidentally, Grigory Rodchenkov, the head of the Russian doping operation at Sochi, was once an athlete himself.  Russia and its former Soviet Bloc partners have a long history of undermining the Purity of Sport.  Putin, however, has failed in his propaganda efforts around sport because he has failed to adhere to a core principle.

The Nazi propagandist, Joseph Goebbels, once said:

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie.”

As with most things in life the truth eventually emerges.  In the Internet Era, that truth tends to go viral!  What Putin has not understood with all his cheating is that once the truth is out of the bottle, there’s no amout of cramming, obfuscation or misinformation that will hide the truth again.  And as a result, as Goebbels expressed, Putin cannot shield the state from culpability.

Everyone knows Rodchenkov engineered for Putin a complex doping scheme to coverup cheating.  Dutch intelligence observed Cozy Bear hacking operations live!  We know that Fancy Bear and the GRU operate as one.  The Pyeongchang Olympic Destroyer attack was justifiably pinned on Russia.  Fancy Bear sought to embarrass WADA and USADA after hacking them.  And, a little reading on Alexander Dugin, who is tied to Putin, reveals that Influence Operations to undermine the West is part of Russian strategy.

And that everybody knows what Putin is up to, and that nobody trusts him, is his strategic downfall!  The World Cup cannot be Putin’s ‘Hitler Olympics’ because, for Russia, the cat’s out of the bag.  The wart on Putin’s propaganda machine, therefore, is that nobody believes the Big Lie.  And worse, nobody gives Russia the benefit of the doubt.  When Russia’s over-achieving national team was succeeding in the World Cup, there was a report that its players were logging more miles than any other team – to wit, they must still be doping was the innuendo (despite extensive testing of the Russia team).

And that everybody knows what Putin is up to,

and that nobody trusts him, is his strategic downfall!

As good as Maria Sharapova is as a tennis player, fans and tennis players distrust whether her performance was drug aided.  The cheating reputation of Russia, championed under the Putin regime, sullies an entire nation’s athletes. Yulia Efimova, the Russian swimmerembroiled in doping controversy, described it after the Rio Olympics:  “Rio was awful – it was war”.

Under Putin, the exact opposite of the intended effect of propaganda is happening: it’s ASSUMED that Russia is lying and cheating.  In contrast to Putin’s manipulation of sport, Sports-ISAO champions the Purity of Sport, and has found great success in harnessing sport’s power to advance cyber capacity building.  Putin is on the wrong side of sport, and on the wrong side of history.  Moreover, the negativity surrounding Putin and his misuse of sport actually undermines Russia’s attempted disruption global strategy. Who’s going to believe Lavrov’s BRIC world order remarks when it’s coming from a Putin mouthpiece?!!!

Come on Vladimir, embrace the Purity of Sport rather than misusing its spectacle for nefarious purposes!  Nobody believes that when you score eight goals in exhibition hockey (a game you took up later in life), it’s because you’re actually a good hockey player.  Your lies aren’t working.


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