LONDON, March 10. /TASS/. The UK is considering a boycott of the 2018 FIFA World Cup hosted by Russia if it is established Moscow was behind the poisoning of former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, The Times said on Saturday citing a defense source.
British officials are holding talks with the US and European allies about "a coordinated retaliation, including possible diplomatic, economic and military measures," if it is found out that Skripal and his daughter were targeted by the Kremlin.
"A boycott of the World Cup is definitely one of the options on the cards," the defense source told the daily.
The Times says that the boycott "could involve stopping senior politicians and officials from attending or even withdrawing the England squad from the tournament." Other countries, such as Poland, Australia and Japan, which teams are in the finals, might be "asked to join in the action."
"A wide range of options are being discussed," a senior Whitehall source said, cited by the daily.
On Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said it was "very difficult to see how UK representation at that event could go ahead in the normal way" if Moscow’s involvement was proved. Later, the Foreign Office told TASS that Johnson meant a possibility that the UK might re-consider its diplomatic and political presentation at the World Cup.
In 2004, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) arrested Skripal and later on, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for high treason. Six years later, the former colonel was handed over to the US as part of a swap involving espionage suspects. In the same year, Skripal arrived in the UK and settled there.
On March 4, the local police said the 66-year-old man and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench outside The Maltings shopping center in Salisbury, following exposure to an unknown nerve agent. Both remain in hospital in critical condition.
On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia was ready to assist in investigating any case, including the Salisbury incident if professional channels were used for request.