Johnson agrees with Labour MP Ian Austin's remark; Mr Austin also calls for England to boycott tournament
The UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, has agreed with a Labour MP’s comparison that Vladimir Putin will use Russia’s World Cup “like Hitler used the Olympics in 1936”, Sky Sports reports.
Speaking at the Foreign Affairs committee in Parliament, Labour MP Ian Austin made the remark and called for England to boycott the tournament.
Replying to the comment, Mr Johnson said: “Yes – I think the comparison with 1936 is certainly right.”
Mr Johnson believes Putin is determined to portray Russia as “strong again” following the collapse of the Soviet Union and wants his country to be “taken seriously again – at any price”.
“I think Vladimir Putin feels that Russia lost out, so he wants to cause trouble wherever he can,” Mr Johnson said, adding that Britain did not want a new Cold War.
Mr Johnson also revealed that the officer who was going to be responsible for UK fan safety at the World Cup has been expelled as part of Russia’s retaliation over diplomats.
He said: “You can’t imagine anything more counter-productive to the UK’s ability to help fans in Russia, so there is an issue – there is a discussion.”
Mr Johnson is seeking guarantees from Russian authorities that England fans in Russia this summer will be safe.
“My challenge to the Russian authorities is to show that the 24,000 UK applicants for tickets to the football World Cup are going to be well treated, are going to be safe,” he told MPs.
“We need to have an urgent conversation with Russia about how they will fulfil their FIFA obligation to look after all fans.”
The 24,000 Visa applicants is down from 94,000 at this stage before the last World Cup in Brazil, according to Mr Johnson, who added the government are not yet advising people against travelling.
“At the moment, we are not actively inclined to dissuade people from going,” Mr Johnson said. Despite his concerns, Mr Johnson ruled out asking England to boycott the World Cup.
“On balance, it would be incredibly unfair to punish them (the fans) or the (England) team who have worked on this for an incredibly long time,” Mr Johnson said.