Diplomatic Impasse Threatens English Presence at World Cup

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England considering a boycott against the World Cup (Kremlin)
(WFI) There have been increased calls for England to boycott at some level the World Cup in Russia.

Blame it on…politics. Again.

The English absence at the football event is a potential response to the recent poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Great Britain where they reside. Both remain in critical condition more than a week after they were found unconscious on a bench in the city center of Salisbury.

Skripal is a former Russian military intelligence officer who was convicted of being recruited later by Britain and released from prison as part of a spy swap between both countries.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said Monday that her government has concluded it is "highly likely" that Russia is responsible for the poisoning. May told British lawmakers that Skripal and his daughter were exposed to a nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War.

May added that should Russian state involvement be proven, it would be considered an "unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom." The British leader gave the Russian ambassador until the end of Tuesday to respond. But no response has followed.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said hours before he was fired from his job on Tuesday that the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal in Britain "clearly came from Russia" and "certainly will trigger a response." Tillerson however added that he had no knowledge whether Russia's government was behind the poisoning

Meanwhile Russian President Vladimir Putin says Britain should figure out what happened to Skripal before blaming the poisoning on his government

Putin said in comments carried by Russian news wires "You first get to the bottom of things over there, and after that we can discuss it."

Some around the Kremlin have gone a bit further in dismissing Russia’s potential involvement in the attack. . A senior lawmaker in Moscow, Vladimir Dzhabarov, says the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal is a "provocation" against Russia that could have been staged by British secret services.

The diplomatic tension between the British and Russian governments has escalated since the attack against the former spy on March 4.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, was the first to call for his country to boycott the Russian World Cup. He then clarified that the measure should only affect government officials planning to attend the football event and not the English national squad competing in it.

Since then, Tom Tugendhat, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the British Parliament, has warned that the
English fans travelling to Russia for the World Cup could be in danger “for actions taken by their government”

A British boycott against the World Cup however would risk a breach of FIFA's tournament regulations which state that any
association that withdraws could face sanctions, "including the expulsion of the association concerned from subsequent FIFA competitions".

The English National team seems to have put in place some measures should it finally go to Russia. According to some reports, the FA has already established some Security details in that include the provision of bottled water only by FIFA and its sponsors.

In addition, England’s players and staff would be advised not to use public or hotel wifi while in the country over hacking fears because, allegedly, the FA fears sensitive information such as injury, squad selection and tactical details could be exposed.

By INSIDER Javier Monne

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