AUSTRALIA, Poland and Japan could boycott the 2018 World Cup along with England if it’s proved that Russia was behind the poisoning of a former double agent in Salisbury last Sunday, March 4, it has been claimed.
The World Cup is due to be held in cities across Russia in June this year – but could see nations dropping out in a ‘co-ordinated retaliation’ if it is found the nerve agent attack was sponsored by the Kremlin.
One source told The Times that officials are talking to the US and European allies about possible diplomatic, economic and military measures against Russia.
The measures are believed to include preventing senior politicians and officials from attending, and even withdrawing the England squad from the tournament.
Other countries with teams in the final such as Australia, Japan and Poland could be asked to boycott the games also.
“A boycott of the World Cup is definitely one of the options on the cards,” a defence source told the paper.
A senior Whitehall source said: “A wide range of options are being discussed.”
Previously, MPs piled on the pressure to pull out of the World Cup saying ministers should seriously consider whether to send the team to the sporting tournament if Russia is found to be behind the attack.
Commons Foreign Affairs Chairman Tom Tugenhat said a boycott should be “kept on the table” and ministers should consider working with other allies on a coordinated response.
He told the Daily Mail: “It is extraordinary that an international sporting event designed to promote peace is being held in a country that has bought it with corrupt money … while using murder as an instrument of state policy.”
And Labour MP Chris Bryant said Putin would use the World Cup to parade the country on a world stage – much like Adolf Hilter did with Germany during the Berlin Olympics in 1936.
He said it would be “very difficult” for the England team to go, and added: “Putin loves using these moments to glorify Russia and he will want to do so again. It will be like 1936 all over again.”