British threats to boycott World Cup over spy attack hurt ties, sport: Russia's Interfax news agency

The digital Fifa World Cup 2018 countdown clock placed in front of the Red Square and the Kremlin in Moscow, on March 5, 2018.
The digital Fifa World Cup 2018 countdown clock placed in front of the Red Square and the Kremlin in Moscow, on March 5, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW (REUTERS) - Russia's foreign ministry said on Monday (March 12) British threats to boycott the 2018 soccer World Cup over the poisoning of a former Russian double agent in England would damage ties with Moscow and hurt world sport, Interfax news agency reported.

Prime Minister Theresa May said earlier on Monday it was "highly likely" that Moscow was responsible for the attack and some British officials have suggested boycotting the Russia-hosted World Cup later this year in response.

"We want to emphasise once again: such provocative statements, which fan anti-Russian hysteria, only complicate relations between our countries and are blow to world sport," Interfax quoted the ministry as saying in a statement.

Earlier, Russia's embassy in London accused the British government of playing a "dangerous game" by failing to dampen speculation linking an attack on a former spy to Moscow, warning it risks harming bilateral relations.

"Current policy of the British government towards Russia is a very dangerous game played with the British public opinion, which not only sends the investigation upon an unhelpful political track but also bears the risk of more serious long-term consequences for our relations," the mission's press secretary said in a statement.