Spy poisoning: West wants to take World Cup away from us, says Russia official
Amid a serious diplomatic face-off between Russia and the West reviving the Cold War memory, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has lashed out at the UK and US accusing them of disrupting her country's hosting the Fifa World Cup this year.
Zakharova, who recently warned of a massive retaliation from Russia against a number of western countries' expelling Moscow's diplomats, said during an interview to a Russian television channel that the "main aim" of the West was to deny Russia the opportunity to host the quadrennial tournament "by any means".
Russia hosting their first-ever World Cup in football this year
Russia is hosting it for the first time ever and although England are participating in the tournament (there is no news yet of it boycotting the tournament), the US have missed out on qualifying - something that many have seen as a perfect symbolism of the Cold War rivalry.
This is the first time in 28 years that the US will not be playing in the Fifa World Cup.
The current diplomatic clash originated over Russia's alleged poisoning of a former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia who reside in Salisbury in England with a nerve agent on March 4. The UK strongly condemned the incident as a violation of borders, expelled a number of Russian diplomats and also mobilised the European Union (EU) to take similar steps against Moscow.
A number of countries, including the US, followed suit by expelling over a 100 diplomats in total. Russia too retaliated by expelling the West's diplomats and denied any involvement in the poisoning incident. While Sergei Skripal, 66, continues to be critically ill but stable, Yulia, 33, is now reportedly conscious and able to speak.
The shadow of the incident has already started looming large over the upcoming World Cup with Great Britain's Royal Family set to avoid the mega event as part of the UK's response against Russia.
The UK's foreign secretary, Boris Johnson compared the World Cup in Russia with the Nazi Germany's holding the Olympics in 1936. Stephen Kinnock, a Labour MP from Welsh also argued in favour of either postponing or removing the event from Russia in light of the Skripals case.
Many countries had boycotted 1980 Olympics in Moscow
The Fifa World Cup will take place between June 14 and July 15. Boycotting an international sporting event organised by Russia/former Soviet Union is, however, not new as in 1980, a number of states, including the US, China and those from Africa, had refused to take part in the Olympic Games held in Moscow that year to protest the erstwhile Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan.