Don’t Boycott Russia World Cup, British MPs Told

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LONDON (AFP) – British lawmakers should not boycott the 2018 World Cup in protest at Russian leader Vladimir Putin, a parliamentary committee said on Thursday.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said last year “all options” were being considered as means of putting pressure on Russia over its role in the ongoing conflict in Syria.

But despite expressing reservations about Russia’s human rights record, the rule of law in the country and state-sponsored doping, the Foreign Affairs committee said the World Cup should be used to build bridges.

“The FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) should use this tournament and others to enhance and repair the wider relationship between the UK and Russia, rather than boycott sport in response to other strained aspects of UK-Russia relations,” the committee’s report said.

The politicians said world football’s governing body FIFA should give “serious continuing consideration” as to whether Russia remains a suitable host.

But they said ministers and officials should only boycott the tournament on sporting — rather than political — grounds.

The committee also called for more cooperation between British and Russian police following the running battles between English and Russian football fans in Marseille that marred Euro 2016.