Royal Family under pressure to boycott World Cup after 'poisoning' of Russian spy

Nick Reilly
Contributor
The Duke of Cambridge is the President of the FA

The Royal Family are facing increased pressure to boycott this summer’s World Cup in Russia, after a former Russian spy was allegedly poisoned in Britain.

Yesterday, Boris Johnson called for UK dignitaries to boycott the football tournament, despite the expected presence of a member of the Royal Family after Prince Harry previously watched England at the Brazil World Cup in 2014.

Mr Johnson’s calls come after former Russian colonel Sergei Skripal, who was convicted of giving Russian secrets to Britain, was exposed to a mystery substance at a shopping centre in Salisbury last weekend.

The 66-year-old colonel and his daughter Yulia, 33, both collapsed and remain critically ill in hospital.

Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter collapsed on a bench after being exposed to an unknown substance

‘We do not know exactly what has taken place, but if it is as bad as it looks, it is another crime in the litany of crimes that we can lay at Russia’s door’, Mr Johnson said yesterday.

At first, it was believed that Mr Johnson was calling for the England national team to boycott the World Cup, before his aides clarified that he was referring to the presence of dignitaries.

‘Thinking ahead to the World Cup this summer, it is very difficult to imagine how UK representation at that event could go ahead in the normal way, and we will certainly have to consider that’, he said.

‘Although it would be wrong to prejudge the investigation, I can reassure the House that, should evidence emerge that implies state responsibility, Her Majesty’s Government will respond appropriately and robustly.’

At present, it is not believed that there are any plans for Prince William, the head of the Football Association, to attend the World Cup.