Monday 21 May 2018

UK government clarifies their position after Boris Johnson hints England may be pulled out of the World Cup finals

Harry Kane will carry England's hopes at this summer's World Cup finals
Harry Kane will carry England's hopes at this summer's World Cup finals
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

UK government officials have dismissed claims that England's place in this summer's World Cup finals is under threat, after Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson made his latest gaff in the House of Commons.

Johnson's latest headline grabbing statement was made as he gave his reaction to claims that the Russian state was behind an apparent assassination attempt on one of former double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury last Monday.

Mr Skripal, 66, and a woman in her 30s were found slumped on a bench amid suggestions they had been poisoned, with Johnson offering some typically flustered comments as he suggested England could pull out of this summer's World Cup in Russia if the host nation are proved to be behind the events in Salisbury.

The Foreign Secretary told MPs that it would be "very difficult to imagine that UK representation" at the World Cup in Russia could "go ahead in the normal way" this summer if Russian links were proven in the Salisbury contamination scare.

A source close to Mr Johnson later said he was talking about a scenario in which British "officials and dignitaries" may not attend, adding he is not seeking to push for the Three Lions to be withdrawn from the tournament.

England are the only one of the home nations to have qualified, with Mr Johnson's remarks in the Commons prompted by the incident which has hospitalised former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia.

Mr Johnson alluded to the belief among some MPs of Russian involvement in the incident, adding such a situation would lead to a "serious conversation about our engagement with Russia".

 

He added: "For my own part, I think it will be very difficult to see how we can - I am thinking ahead to the World Cup this July this summer - I think it'll be very difficult to imagine that UK representation at that event could go ahead in the normal way. We'd certainly have to consider that."

England will face Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in the group stages of the competition, which begins on June 14 in Moscow as Russia take on Saudi Arabia.

Online Editors

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport