White House: British football fans should ‘think twice’ before going to Russia World Cup

British football fans should “think twice” before traveling to the Russian World Cup because they will be more exposed after recent diplomatic expulsions, the White House has warned. 

Senior US administration officials said Britain and America’s embassies in Russia will be less able to help fans after staff were ordered home after the Salisbury poisoning. 

Fans who get ill and need to be urgently sent home will find they are less likely to get consular support, one official warned. 

They also said that anti-terrorism co-operation between America and Russia over the World Cup has been dented by the recent diplomatic row.

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The stark warning comes just two months before the World Cup begins. Some 10,000 England fans are expected to attend. 

“We won’t have the same ability to protect our citizens or even just deal with the regular consular affairs,” the official said. 

Several England supporters were injured in the violenceCredit:
 JEAN-PAUL PELISSIER/ Reuters

Asked to explain the concerns, the official added: “If you get into any kind of difficulty there then we just won’t have the wherewithal. People have accidents. They get ill, they need to be medivacked out.

“We’re not suggesting that there are going to be some major sets of incidents but it’s just that there are those larger concerns.

“We were trying to work with the Russians on counter-terrorism as well. Any large sporting event no matter what country now is a target. 

“And so we’ve now got less ability to be able to do with the Russians than before because they’ve decimated the counterparts who would be dealing with this kind of thing, for the UK and the US. 

The official added: “For the UK, I think that is a big challenge. The UK is a great sporting nation, it takes its soccer seriously. UK soccer fans show up everywhere. 

“Is your embassy going to be able to provide for them or are they going to have to then outsource some of the regular consular support to others?”

Concerns over violence between English and Russian fans amid the countries’ heightened tensions have been expressed by a number of UK political figures. 

There were ugly clashes between both sets of fans when the countries faced each other at the Euro 2016 competition in France. 

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has said he could not think of “anything more counterproductive” to helping English fans visiting Russia for the World Cup than the recent embassy expulsions. 

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