2018 FIFA World Cup Organizer Says UK Mustn't Politicize Skripal Poisoning Case

© Sputnik / Alexei Danichev / Go to the mediabankThe 2018 FIFA World Cup stand ahead of the 2017 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). (File)
The 2018 FIFA World Cup stand ahead of the 2017 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). (File) - Sputnik International
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - London should not politicize sports by offering to boycott the 2018 FIFA World Cup as a response to the suspected poisoning of former officer of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) Sergei Skripal, the director general of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the World Cup in Russia told Sputnik on Monday.

"We have always called on our colleagues, and continue to call on them not to mix football and politics, coming from the position that these are not things to be mixed. The World Cup is a big celebration; there is no reason to politicize it," Alexey Sorokin said.

Sorokin stated that he had no intention of reaching out to the UK Ministry of Defense.

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On Saturday, The Times reported, citing a defense source, that the United Kingdom was considering a boycott of the 2018 World Cup if Moscow was found to be behind the attack on Skripal and his daughter Yulia. The news comes just a couple of days after UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson warned in his remarks to parliament that London could reconsider the level of its representation at the FIFA competition in Russia.

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On March 5, local police said that a man and a woman were found unconscious on a bench at a shopping center in Salisbury, adding that both people were "in a critical condition in intensive care" and being treated for suspected exposure to an unknown substance. The man and woman were later confirmed to be Skripal and his daughter.

In 2006, Skripal was sentenced in Russia to 13 years in prison for cooperating with the UK Secret Intelligence Service MI-6 and transferring names of Russian intelligence agents working undercover in Europe. In 2010, then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree pardoning Skripal.

Russia will host its first FIFA World Cup from June 14 to July 15. The matches will take place in Kaliningrad, Kazan, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, Saransk, Sochi, St. Petersburg, Volgograd, and Yekaterinburg. The United Kingdom will be represented at the sports event by the England national football team that will play with the national teams of Belgium, Panama and Tunisia during the group stage. The teams of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

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