FOREIGN Minister Julie Bishop has insisted there are no plans to boycott the World Cup, despite earlier suggesting that it could be part of a unified Western response to Russia’s alleged use of chemical weapons on British soil.
Bishop said on Twitter that the government “is not considering a boycott of the world cup”, after her earlier comments had been widely interpreted as putting a boycott on the agenda.
Bishop and the Prime Minister this morning announced the expulsion of two Russian diplomats suspected of spying, as part of a co-ordinated suite of Western sanctions unveiled against Russia in the wake of the nerve agent used on UK soil against a former Russian intelligence official and his daughter.
As part of that, Bishop added: “There are a whole range of options of further actions that could be taken. The World Cup is one of the further actions,” leaving Football Federation Australia scrambling to clarify her exact meaning.
LIVE BLOG: Can Roos net first victory for Bert?
TIM CAHILL: We’ll restore pride to the jersey
FFA believes Bishop was referring to a diplomatic boycott of the tournament, following in the footsteps of the British government which has already said that its diplomats and ministers will not attend the World Cup in protest.
If the Australian government tried to prevent the Socceroos from travelling it would invoke instant suspension from FIFA, whose statutes absolutely prohibit government interference in its members’ affairs.
“Football Federation Australia respects the Australian Government’s responsibility to make decisions about diplomatic and international relations,” a spokesperson for FFA said.
“We have sought clarification regarding the Foreign Minister’s comments about the World Cup.
“As things stand all qualifying teams, including the England team, will be taking part in this FIFA event and that continues to be our intention.”