There are indications that the presence of Iceland national team at the June 2018 FIFA World Cup may be marred with the latest diplomatic development between the country and Russia.
This development came as Iceland on Monday announced it would stage a diplomatic boycott of the 2018 World Cup in Russia over the poisoning of a former double agent in Britain.
“Icelandic officials will not go to the FIFA World Cup in Russia this summer,” a statement from the foreign ministry read.
The EU member states have said it was highly likely Russia was responsible for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4.
They also ordered the recall of the bloc’s ambassador to Moscow. Iceland is in Group D alongside Nigeria, Argentina and Croatia.
“Among the measures taken by Iceland is the temporary postponement of all high-level bilateral dialogue with Russian authorities. Consequently, Icelandic leaders will not attend the FIFA World Cup in Russia this summer,” a ministry statement said.
On Monday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said that more than 130 people may have been exposed to a nerve agent believed to have been used to poison ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury on March 4.
May, welcoming the show of solidarity, said 18 countries had announced plans to expel Russian officials. Those included 14 European Union countries. In total, 100 Russian diplomats were being removed, the biggest Western expulsion of Russian diplomats since the height of the Cold War.
Russia has repeatedly denied responsibility for the nerve agent attack.
“So far, Russia’s response has been severely lacking,” the Icelandic Foreign Ministry statement said. “Russia must provide credible explanations on how a nerve agent originally produced in Soviet laboratories came to be used to attack civilians in the United Kingdom.”