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Russia shrugs off World Cup no-show by British ministers, royals

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

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MOSCOW, Russian Federation (AFP) — Moscow on Tuesday shrugged off London's decision not to send British ministers and royals to Russia's World Cup over a nerve agent attack on a former double agent.

The measure was one of a number announced by British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday in response to the March 4 poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England.

May said her government had found that Russia was "culpable" of the attack.

"It is every fan's choice, whether to come or not," Russia's World Cup organising committee chief Alexey Sorokin told the RIA Novosti news agency.

"It will have no impact on the quality of the tournament. We still intend to organise it at the highest level," said Sorokin.

"It is a shame that not everyone adheres to the principle of football being outside politics," he added.

The possibility of the English team boycotting the first World Cup staged in Russia has been heavily analysed by the Moscow press.

May announced a raft of measures that included expelling 23 Russian diplomats and suspending high-level diplomatic contacts with Moscow.

"There will be no attendance by ministers — or indeed members of the royal family — at this summer's World Cup in Russia," May told lawmakers.

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