Sport Football Julie Bishop ‘not considering’ World Cup boycott
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Julie Bishop ‘not considering’ World Cup boycott

Socceroos celebrate World Cup berth
The Socceroos celebrate after their 3-1 qualifying victory over Honduras. Photo: Getty
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Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says the federal government is not entertaining a boycott of the World Cup as part of a growing backlash against Russia.

The government is stepping up diplomatic action against the European nation, expelling two spies as part of a co-ordinated global response to a poisoning episode in the United Kingdom earlier this month.

Russia is hosting the world’s biggest sporting event in June, with the Socceroos attending after sweating their way through a 22-match qualifying process.

In response to direct questioning on Tuesday for the potential for a state-sanctioned Socceroos stay-away, Bishop left the door open.

“There are a whole range of options of further actions that could be taken. The World Cup is one of the further actions,” she said.

Later that afternoon, she closed it, tweeting “the government is not considering a boycott of the #World Cup”.

When the Socceroos kick off their campaign – against France on June 16 in Kazan – there’s unlikely to be an official presence in the stands.

The Australian government may join the UK in a “state boycott” of the event, where no political leaders travel to Russia.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has announced no ministers or royal family members will attend official events, including the opening ceremony, at the tournament.

Iceland, which will compete for the first time at the global showpiece after its surprise qualification, has followed suit.

London newspaper The Sun reports Australia is one of a number of countries likely to join this action.

FIFA – which is currently investigating Football Federation Australia over its governance structures – would expel and punish Australia should the Socceroos not attend.

It’s one of many reasons why the prospect of the Socceroos not heading to Russia is highly unlikely.

“Football Federation Australia respects the Australian government’s responsibility to make decisions about diplomatic and international relations,” an FFA spokesperson said.

“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.”

Australia has long-running sanctions in place against Russia, but it did not prevent the Socceroos from attending last year’s Confederations Cup.

After a marathon process involving matches in 12 nations, the Socceroos finally booked their place at the global showpiece last November with an inter-continental playoff defeat of Honduras.

-AAP