Australia will not boycott Russia World Cup

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Bengaluru, March 28: Australia has no plans to boycott the 2018 FIFA World Cup to be held in Russia in response to a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain.

The country's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop clarified some earlier comments by saying the country will participate the quadrennial extravaganza.

After Australia expelled two Russian diplomats, Bishop said that boycotting the June 14-July 15 tournament in Russia was among "a range" of other options available to the government.

But on Wednesday (March 28), Bishop cleared up what she thought had been a misunderstanding over her comments.

"The Australian government isn't considering a boycott of the World Cup," Bishop was quoted as saying in Australian media.

"When I was asked about it yesterday I was referring to the fact that Britain, for example, pursued an option of announcing that the Royal Family wouldn't be attending the World Cup, but Australia isn't considering a boycott."

The Football Federation Australia also issued as statement saying the Socceroos team would be in Russia in June.

"As things stand, all qualifying teams, including the England team, will be taking part in this FIFA event and that continues to be our intention," read an FFA statement.

It may be recalled that the British government has blamed Moscow for the attack on the former Russian intelligence officer in Salisbury, prompting a series of reprisals against the Kremlin from governments across the Western world.

The United States said it would expel 60 Russian diplomats. In total, 100 diplomats are being removed, the biggest Western expulsion since the height of the Cold War.

Bishop said she thought Australia had taken "appropriate action" with the removal of the two Russian diplomats.

"This sends a very powerful message that Russia's actions and the responsibility that Russia must take this use of a chemical nerve agent in London will not be tolerated," Bishop said.

These are truly bad times for Australian sport. Their cricket team is in disarray following the ball tampering row in the ongoing Test series in South Africa, which has already claimed high-profile casualties including their captain Steve Smith, his deputy David Warner and opening batsman Cameron Bancroft.

Veteran Socceroos striker Tim Cahill came out in support of his country saying he hopes Australia's national football team can play a part in rehabilitating the sporting reputation in the wake of the cricket ball-tampering scandal.

(With Agency inputs)

Story first published: Wednesday, March 28, 2018, 10:52 [IST]
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