- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 27, 2018

A boycott of this summer’s World Cup in Russia over the nerve-agent attack in Britain has reportedly been joined by seven governments.

According to The Sun, six nations with teams that have qualified for the world’s biggest sporting event are expected to join the British government in refusing to participate in the festivities.

Those nations are Poland, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Australia and Japan.

More national governments are expected to join, the British tabloid reported.

The boycott is a punishment for the March 4 attack in Salisbury, England, in which former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found slumped on a park bench, poisoned by a nerve agent. Russia has been declared responsible for the attack, which it has denied.

None of the seven countries, the Sun explained, have said their teams will pull out of the tournament and none are expected to, with some having noted that this would punish their own country’s fans as much as Russia.

Instead their governments will not participate in any of the associated festivities or events, such as the traditionally star-studded opening ceremony, set for Moscow on June 14.

British Prime Minister Theresa May announced last week that, contrary to earlier announced plans, neither Prince William nor any government ministers will play any part in the competition, for which England qualified last year.

Polish President Andrzej Duda quickly backed Ms. May, canceling his planned attendance at the opening ceremony to mark Poland’s first appearance at the tournament since 2006.

On Monday, Iceland’s Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson announced a boycott by his government of the nation’s first appearance at the World Cup after decades as one of European soccer’s doormats.

“Iceland stands in solidarity with UK over Salisbury Attack. High-level bilateral dialogue with Russia postponed, resulting in Icelandic leaders not attending FIFA World Cup. We urge Russia to cooperate with the investigation,” he tweeted.

British officials applauded the support from other World Cup-qualifying nations.

“It is great to see solidarity from our allies on this,” Labor MP Ian Austin, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, told the Sun. “It is right for our governments not to give any help to Putin abusing the World Cup for his own self-glorification.”


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