Own goal: UK Prime Minister Theresa May confirms Prince Wills World Cup no go
UK Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed Wednesday that no ministers or members of the Royal family will travel to the FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia this summer, including President of the English FA Prince William.
May also said 23 Russian diplomats will be expelled in retaliation for the country’s suspected involvement in the nerve-agent attack on former British spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, UK.
"All who been identified as undeclared intelligence officers. They have just one week to leave," she said. “This will be the single biggest expulsion for over 30 years, and it will reflect the fact that this is not the first time the Russian state has acted against our country."
The prime minister said the decision came as part of her efforts to “dismantle the Russian espionage network in the UK,” and therefore no UK ministers or members of the royal family will attend this summer's football festival.
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had earlier said that UK participation at Russia 2018 would not “go ahead as normal” if Russian involvement was proven in the Skripal incident. However, May’s actions have come without any facts being presented to indicate such involvement.
British media then mooted the idea of a World Cup boycott by the UK. Russia’s Foreign Ministry responded to this by saying the British press were "unable to forgive" the country for winning the right to host the tournament.
Earlier on Wednesday, German Football Association (DFB) chief Reinhard Grindel denied reports that current world champions Germany would boycott the tournament in protest at bombing victims in East Ghouta, Syria.
Manager Joachim Loew was reportedly shown photos of victims by Julian Reichelt, the editor-in-chief of Germany’s best-selling newspaper Bild, who then compared the 1936 Berlin Olympics in Nazi Germany to Russia 2018.
However, the football chief said a German boycott would only serve to harm the situation, saying the DFB “is leaning towards dialogue, and not a boycott,” and emphasized the “need to build bridges.”