Rabat - Three months before the FIFA World Cup in Russia, London and Kremlin are on the verge of a historical diplomatic rift, with English football fans said to be eying a general boycott of the Russian World Cup.
Rabat – Three months before the FIFA World Cup in Russia, London and Kremlin are on the verge of a historical diplomatic rift, with English football fans said to be eying a general boycott of the Russian World Cup.
Will England go through with boycotting, thus thwarting the dream of the country’s football team?
Strictly speaking, while the British government has officially made its low opinion of the Russian campaign known (England has not yet swallowed the Marseille incident in 2016), the English football federation, for his part, has made no such official statements, and therefore the understanding is that England will be present in Russia where they are to play in Group G along with Belgium, Panama, and Tunisia.
It all started with the murder attempt of former spy Sergei Skripal, whose inanimate body, along with that of his daughter, was found “slumped to bench” near a shopping mall in Salisbury. Sergei and his daughter are now critically ill in hospital where, under intensive medical care, they strive for their lives.
After establishing that the chemical used to poison Sergei and his daughter is of Russian origin, “a nerve developed by Russia known as Novichok,” BBC reported, Teresa May called out Russian authorities, telling the Kremlin to account for the use of a Russian-made nerve in a political murder in the UK, or else face appropriate consequences.
“The Russian state was culpable of the attempted murder,” May went on to say in a tense statement on March 14, as she announced a massive expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats from the UK, as well as the UK government’s boycotting of the FIFA World Cup to be played in Russia this summer. “There will be no attendance by ministers-or indeed members of the royal family-at this summer’s World Cup in Russia,” May said.
Russia has denied guilt, or indeed any involvement in the tragedy, with its foreign ministry calling May’s accusations “insane” and aiming to trouble and tarnish Russia’s World Cup.
Kremlin is however yet to answer to the UK’s massive diplomatic expulsions. And should Putin embark upon the same boats, the ramifications could be more far reaching than anyone would anticipate.
For now, though, because May said in her March 14 statement that the decision whether or not to participate in this year’s World Cup is “one for the sporting authorities”, the FA, England’s highest football body, is set to participate in the World Cup.
“The FA will continue to work closely with the UK government and relevant authorities regarding our participation in this summer’s FIFA World Cup and the Women’s World Cup qualifier,” a recent FA statement read. The statement added: “Our priority for England matches is to ensure the safety and security of the fans, players and staff.”
So, as things stand right now, the English squad will make the trip to Russia, regardless of its government’s decision to “diplomatically and politically” boycott the event.
But even as the English squad and English football fans-the majority, anyway–are said to be keen on taking part in football’s ultimate spectacle, you can’t ignore the political dimension of the World Cup (the singing of national anthems and the brandishing of national flags).
Also, as the situation that created the diplomatic gulf between the two countries is far from contained, or over, nothing can yet be declared a foregone conclusion.
And if Putin retaliates against the UK’s recent mass expulsion of diplomats-as he so often chooses to do in a spectacular manner-this is indeed nowhere near its end, which may then force the English FA to review its position as it currently stands.