Johnson not threatening England World Cup boycott

England's participation at Russia 2018 is to go ahead as planned after a parliamentary statement from Boris Johnson suggested otherwise.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson   -  Getty Images

The Football Association (FA) does not believe comments made by foreign secretary Boris Johnson on the United Kingdom's relationship with Russia place England's participation at the 2018 World Cup in jeopardy.

Johnson addressed the House of Commons on Tuesday to answer questions over the alleged poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury.

Skripal and his daughter Yulia are critically ill in hospital after being found unconscious on Sunday afternoon.

Counter Terrorism Police have now taken over the investigation, while Russia has denied any involvement, with a government spokesperson saying it has "no information" relating to the incident.

Johnson promised the UK government would respond "appropriately and robustly" if evidence of Russian culpability came to light before causing consternation with comments over the World Cup in the country later this year, which some interpreted as proposing a boycott from the England team.

"If things turn out to be as many members on both sides of the house suspect that they are, I think we will have to have a serious conversation about our engagement with Russia," Johnson said.

"For my own part, thinking ahead to the World Cup this summer, I think it will be very difficult to imagine that UK representation at that event could go ahead in the normal way. We would certainly have to consider that."

However, the FA's understanding – in line with reported briefings from Johnson's office – is that the comments referred to any UK government presence at Russia 2018 and not whether or not Gareth Southgate's team would take part.

England will play Tunisia, Panama and Belgium in Group G after finishing top of their qualifying section.

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