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Small decisions lead to big consequences, with such a decision being made within, let's say, the sporting circle, the consequences may be way bigger than just sports. If the Soviet Union had decided to wait just one day in announcing the boycott of the 1984 Olympics AFTER FIFA decided on the 1990 World Cup hosts, they might just have won the bid. This Althist assumes that they did.
Mikhail Gorbachev comes to power and sees the World Cup as a chance to successfully implement his reforms. In 1990, the Soviet Union successfully hosts and also wins the World Cup. The subsequent boost in Soviet nationalism although not enough to continue fighting the Cold War, is enough for the Union to stay together, although in 1991, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Georgia become independent. A KGB-led power change in neighbouring Mongolia results in Mongolia, already a puppet Communist state, joining the USSR. There is no August Coup. Instead the Soviet Union becomes a federation of just one republic instead of a union of 12 republics. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics becomes the United Soviet Socialist Republic.
Timeline of Events
In 1984, the Soviet Union gains the right to host the 1990 FIFA World Cup. A total of 18 stadiums in 14 host cities were planned. This was also the first world cup to have 32 teams in the finals. The Soviet government pulled out all the stops to prevent a boycott of the World Cup, as happened to the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. The Soviet Top League saw a huge surge of popularity both from within the Soviet Union and the outside world. Gorbachev's Glasnost and Prestorika plans go into action. They are a lot more successful than in OTL. The Soviet Union comes second in the 1984 and 1988 Euro Cups and comes fourth in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. Gorbachev also carries out a cost cutting policy. This was carried out by reducing over-the-top military spending. The mandatory conscription was planned to be cut down to 18 months from 24. Instead of a massive army of conscripts, a new professional force of full-time volunteers begin to emerge. Gorbachev also had no intent of aggression and pulls out of Afghanistan and makes contingency plans to pull-out all Soviet forces outside the Union if needed. Although Glasnost freed the populace, only the Baltic republics and Georgia have any moves toward secession. In 1990, the Soviet Union hosts the World Cup and goes on to become the champion. The subsequent feeling of national unity and pride allowed Gorbachev to keep the Union together. In 1991, he agreed to let the four "secessionist" republics go. In November 1990, a KGB operation toppled the Mongolian leadership (although Communist and pro-Soviet, they were not as hard-left as Moscow wanted) with a ultra-left wing government. The new leadership quickly gained Moscow's trust and worked hard for entry into the USSR. In mid-1991, Gorbachev agreed to the independence of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Georgia. In August, at a meeting of the leaders of the 11 republics (plus Mongolia), it was decided to turn the USSR into a federation. A new Federation Treaty was drawn up. According to it, all 12 republics (including Mongolia) would give up their status as republics and would merge into a federation. The federation would be built along the same lines as the RSFSR, although there would be no autonomous republics. The members also agreed to change the name of the Soviet Union accordingly, into the United Soviet Socialist Republic.