UK ministers and royal family members will boycott World Cup, Theresa May confirms
14 March 2018, 13:00
No ministers or members of the Royal Family will go to World Cup finals in Russia this summer, British Prime Minister Theresa May has announced.
May made the announcement during Wednesday's Prime Minister's Questions, following the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury last week.
Mrs May said the nerve agent used to poison Mr Skripal was developed in Russia and she considers Russia as highly likely to be behind the attack.
As the president of the FA, the Duke of Cambridge has been a regular at England's World Cup games along with his brother Prince Harry at recent tournaments but neither will travel to Russia.
"There will be no attendance by ministers - or indeed members of the Royal Family - at this summer's World Cup in Russia," May told parliament, as she announced the suspension of high-level bilateral ties between London and Moscow.
"The Russian state was culpable of the attempted murder.
"Many of us looked at a post-Soviet Russia with hope. We wanted a better relationship and it is tragic that President Putin has chosen to act in this way."
The Prime Minister chose to impose retaliatory measures, which included expelling 23 Russian diplomats, after Russian President Vladimir Putin failed to respond to her deadline to explain the attack.
The diplomats "have been identified as undeclared intelligence officers," May said, giving them one week to leave the UK in the "single biggest expulsion for over 30 years".
Mr Skripal worked as a double agent for Britain, until his arrest in Russia in 2004.
Russia's embassy in London put out a statement in response, condemning the punitive measures by the British government.
"We consider this hostile action as totally unacceptable, unjustified and shortsighted. All the responsibility for the deterioration of the Russia-UK relationship lies with the current political leadership of Britain," the statement said.
The FA issued a statement saying they would be working with the government regarding participation at the World Cup.
The statement read: "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 in June.
"Our priority for all England matches is to ensure the safety and security of the fans, players and staff. As is standard practice, we will take all travel guidance from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office."
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was among those to question whether England should go to the World Cup, which begins in June, but former FA Chairman Greg Dyke does not believe the government would ask for Gareth Southgate's side to boycott the tournament.
He said: "I think it's highly unlikely that we will boycott the World Cup. I don't think the government will ask, and I think if they did the FA would say no."
When asked why England's footballers may not take a stand, Dyke was clear.
He explained: "Because it won't make any difference and you would alienate a lot of people in this country who are football fans who want us to go to the World Cup and want us to do well, for what reason?"