Football World Cup call over UK relations with Russia

Image source, AFP
Image caption, The football World Cup will be held in Russia in 2018

Ministers should use next year's World Cup in Russia to repair the UK's poor relations with Moscow, MPs have said.

The Foreign Affairs Committee warned against using the football tournament to protest against the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Foreign Office should instead increase consular staff and police co-operation to prepare for any crowd trouble, the committee said.

The competition takes place from 14 June to 15 July 2018.

The committee raised concerns about Moscow's "questionable record" on human rights, the rule of law and state-sponsored doping.

World football's governing body should give "serious continuing consideration" about whether Russia remains a suitable host, the MPs said.

But ministers and officials should only shun the tournament for sporting reasons, not Mr Putin's political position, they added.

The report said: "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 MPs also called for co-operation between the countries' police forces to avoid the violent scenes among Russian and English fans in Marseilles at Euro 2016.

Last year, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said "all options" were being considered to put pressure on the Kremlin over its actions in Syria.

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