The Icelandic government is considering boycotting the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia to show support for the UK, RÚV reports. UK officials are boycotting the event, asserting the Russian government is responsible for a poison attack which recently occurred on English soil.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson says a complete government boycott of the event is being considered, meaning no Icelandic officials would attend the 2018 World Cup. Participation of the national men’s football team and Icelandic fans is, however, not in doubt.
“This is a very unique opportunity. We are not only the smallest nation to have qualified for the world cup, we are the smallest nation by a long shot,” Guðlaugur said. The Icelandic men’s national football team received worldwide attention for reaching the quarter-finals of the EUFA European Championship in 2016. “It’s very important that we take advantage of this opportunity now when we have awakened this much interest to bring our country and what we have to offer into the spotlight,” Guðlaugur remarked.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May asserts Russia is responsible for the attempted murder of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury earlier this month. In protest, neither UK officials nor the British royal family will attend the World Cup. Russia has denied the accusations.
“What we are discussing is of course the response to these events in the UK. These are very serious things and are not only connected to the British[…] Of course our team will attend and fans of the team, there is no uncertainty about that,” stated Guðlaugur.
The Icelandic ambassador to Russia urged the government yesterday to consider how the nation would be viewed were the event boycotted.