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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

U.K. royal family, ministers won't attend World Cup in Russia - PM Theresa May

U.K. foreign secretary Boris Johnson says Britain may not participate normally in the World Cup if Russia is proven to be behind the unexplained illness of a former spy.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has confirmed that no members of the British royal family or government ministers will attend the 2018 World Cup in Russia in the wake of the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal.

Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, remain in critical condition after they were exposed to what U.K. authorities have described as a nerve agent in the English city of Salisbury earlier this month.

Last week, U.K. foreign secretary Boris Johnson said that "it will be very difficult to imagine that U.K. representation [at the World Cup] will go ahead in the normal way" if Russian involvement was proven. On Monday, May said that Russian involvement in Skripal's poisoning was "highly likely."

Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday, May confirmed that no representatives would travel to Russia despite the England national team's presence at the tournament.

Earlier this week, Russia's foreign ministry said in a strongly worded statement that any potential British World Cup boycott would damage the relationship between the two countries as well as world sport.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May leaves the weekly cabinet meeting in Downing Street
Theresa May told the House of Commons that no ministers would travel to the World Cup.

May said on Wednesday that Russia has expressed "disdain" for Britain's wish for an explanation into the attempted murder of Skripal and his daughter. Russia's actions "represent an unlawful use of force," she added.

The U.K. will force 23 Russian diplomats to leave Britain within the next week, May said. It's the biggest such expulsion since the Cold War.

Russia has denied responsibility in the March 4 attack on the Skripals.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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