Pull Britain out of World Cup?

Politicians from both sides consider withdrawing from Russian event

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Prince William will not attend World Cup

By Diane Cooke

Prince William will not attend the FIFA football World Cup hosted in Russia later this year, following accusations of the Kremlin's suspected involvement in the poisoning of a double agent in Salisbury at the weekend.

The poisoning has sparked political tensions between the UK and Russia, with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson suggesting that officials may not attend the football tournament this summer.

Prince William, who is president of the Football Association, and his brother Harry, have flown out to support England at previous tournaments.

However, the decision not to attend predates the double agent poisoning, a royal source has said.

Theresa May said the Government would “look at whether ministers and other dignitaries should attend” the sporting event during Prime Minister’s Questions.

Her comments came after Mr Johnson told MPs it would be very difficult to imagine the UK team attending the World Cup.

However, the foreign secretary has been criticised as "pathetic" over his response to the poisoning of the former Russian spy.

He told MPs on Tuesday it is "very difficult to imagine how UK representation at that event could go ahead in the normal way", if there is shown to be state responsibility around Sergei Skripal and his daughter who were found unconscious in a shopping centre in Salisbury, Wiltshire, on Monday.

Mr Skripal, 66, and 33-year-old Yulia are being treated in intensive care after being discovered slumped on a bench following suspected exposure to an unknown substance.

Despite the Foreign Secretary’s intervention, the FA’s plans to send their officials have not changed.

However, the England team's wives and girlfriends will not be out in force amid rising security fears.

Players’ families have typically stayed close to the team base at previous major tournaments, as was the case in Chantilly during Euro 2016 and Rio de Janiero at the World Cup four years ago.

But this time, some are ready to snub the finals completely, while others will fly in and out for games.

Those who do decide to stay in Russia are understood to be planning to base themselves in St Petersburg, despite England’s team hotel being almost a 30-mile drive away in sleepy Repino.

The Russian embassy has said it was “completely untrue” to suggest the country’s special services were involved in the poisoning.

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England should 'consider' pulling out of the World Cup over Russian spy case

The shadow foreign secretary said England's participation in the international sporting event should be "thought about quite carefully" but added that it should probably go ahead as planned.

Relations between London and Moscow have come under increasing strain in recent days after former double-agent Sergie Skripal and his daughter Yulia were hospitalised.

The pair were found unconscious outside a shopping centre in the Wiltshire town of Salisbury and are believed to have been exposed to an unknown substance.

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