Football and politics are two different things. But at one time, politics could be riding on football, whether it is implied or explicit. This is what happened in British and Russian relations. Their heated relationship affects the readiness of the England national team ahead of the 2018 World Cup.
England are one of 32 countries that have secured a place in the 2018 World Cup finals. The Three Lions' squad have even chosen their base camp in Russia for June-July. Britain chose Repino, one of the areas that entered the city of St. Petersburg. A quiet town that raises criticism from the British media.
Like other teams who also qualify for the World Cup, England began to do some preparation in order to perform nicely in the four-year event. However, in the middle of the preparation period, the British are threatened to boycott Russia as the host of the World Cup.
The threat of a boycott issued by Britain comes after the incident of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy who defected, was poisoned at a shopping center in the Wiltshire area of England. He was poisoned together with his son, Yulia.
British Foreign Relations Secretary Boris Johnson said that as poisoning events against Johnson, the England national team will be secured. Moreover, Prime Minister Theresa May called Russia's connection with Skripal's death quite strong.
"This assassination attempt, using a chemical weapon in the British territory, is not just a criminal act against Skripal alone, it is an action that threatens England, to be precisely the United Kingdom, and the innocent citizens in it. We do not tolerate such actions on the land of Great Britain, "May said as quoted by The Guardian.
Responding to the words from May and Johnson, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the threat of boycotts issued by the British is a jealousy. In the process of bidding the 2018 World Cup, England was lost to Russia.
"The boys who issued the boycott were not only from the British Government but also from journalists, but this case was used by British politicians to call Russia's involvement in negative action, so there is reason to launch a boycott," the official statement of the Foreign Ministry Russia as quoted from ESPNFC.
"We already understand that ahead of the World Cup, Western European media will attack us and investigate us.British is one of the countries that actively criticize, it could be because they failed to host the 2018 World Cup. But they need to remember, we won bidding honestly, "the statement said.
Meanwhile, Vice President of the Russian Football Union, Nikita Simonyan, claimed no problem with the threat of a boycott of England. In essence, the World Cup is believed to remain crowded without the participation of the England national team.
"Some time ago they said that politics should be kicked from football but see what happens, it does not matter if they do not join the World Cup, because their place will be occupied by other countries that also have a chance," said Nikita.
Former member of the FA Executive Committee, David Davies, also disagrees with the attitude of the British Government. Besides not being supported by the international world, he also assumes that the FA will still support Russia in the implementation of the World Cup because it has shown its seriousness.
"I think the idea of withdrawing the (World Cup) team from the World Cup is currently not under the FA's consideration, but over time, the decision could have changed," Davies told the BBC.
Indeed politics and soccer are two separate things. In fact, soccer and politics are still two things that can be linked. Political interests (still) are playing football.