As France beat Croatia 4-2 in the final to claim its second-ever World Cup, congratulations and accolades poured in from around the world. Predictably, from the man who is never shy about weighing in with his opinions on global matters, U.S. President Donald Trump also offered his congratulations to France, and … to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Congratulations to France, who played extraordinary soccer, on winning the 2018 World Cup. Additionally, congratulations to President Putin and Russia for putting on a truly great World Cup Tournament — one of the best ever!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2018
In fairness to Trump, and Putin, the Russia World Cup was a huge success and was relatively free of the controversies and problems many predicted might mar the tournament before it began. But critics have also pointed to the tournament as a huge public relations victory for Putin, who has faced criticisms for his seemingly unopposed stranglehold on the seat of power in Russia and for creating a political environment where journalists are imprisoned and the rights of the LGBTQ community are persecuted.
During the tournament’s showpiece final between France and Croatia, the controversial anti-authoritarian punk band Pussy Riot staged a pitch invasion in an apparent protest of Putin’s regime.
Trump’s congratulations of Putin on Twitter is particularly eye-raising following this week’s indictment by the Robert Mueller investigation of 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking the DNC during the 2016 election. The U.S. president, who attracted huge protests during his visit to London this week, is scheduled to meet with Putin on Monday in a one-on-one summit that will see the two leaders come together with no one else in the room other than translators.
In the wake of the indictments of the Russian intel officers, Trump is under increasing pressure to cancel the summit with Putin, who as a former intelligence officer himself, is generally assumed to have had knowledge of the campaign hacks.
More World Cup on Yahoo Sports:
• Here are the top 18 moments of the 2018 World Cup
• Belgium beats England to claim third place
• Why England is here to stay despite disappointing finish
• Slideshow: France, Croatia fans go wild during World Cup final